Emotions run high on day program killed
On the day that council killed a controversial program that distributes crack pipes to addicts, tensions ran high between Sandy Hill residents who say they’re plagued by drug users and program supporters outside city hall.
Residents of Sandy Hill marched to city hall to argue against the harm-reduction program, which they said is increasing the prevalence of drug-related activity in their neighbourhood.
While residents exchanged heated words with program supporters, it turned out both sides had a common goal — to help drug addicts.
“We’re saying the same thing,” said Sandy Hill business owner Sarah Armstrong. “We want to see addicts helped. We just disagree on the process.”
People who support the city distributing crack pipes don’t see the harm it causes addicts, she said. Armstrong, on the other hand, sees the suffering daily, and has noticed an increase in drug use and vagrancy in the area.
But long-term evidence shows that harm-reduction programs like distributing crack pipes to keep addicts from spreading disease work, said Nicholas Little of the AIDS Committee of Ottawa.
The crack pipe kits get more people to stop using needles, claimed protester Michael Brack.
“It is a less dangerous way of using ... and less of a chance to spread HIV.”
But Sandy Hill resident Paula Dunn said she’s seen dealers selling their wares on church steps.
“There are people outside screaming for crack everyday,” she said.
“I feel really that I am a hostage in my home,” said Lji Ljana. “We cannot go anywhere. Ten o’clock in the morning, someone dealing drugs on your steps, that is scary. I am not against those people, they really need help.”
The biggest problem resident Denise Killick has is with discarded drug paraphernalia. “I have found people in my backyard,” she said.
But protester Shannon Willmott doesn’t believe the residents’ “not-in-my-backyard attitude” deals realistically with the problems.
“Taking away the pipes isn’t going to remove the crack,” she said.