When Sharon Manson-Singer moved into her dream heritage home in Sandy Hill 18 months ago, she had no clue what kinds of things took place in the neighbourhood.
But soon, she witnessed drug deals take place in her own backyard. Her neighbour found tickets for public drunkenness and prostitution in the driveway.
While she still loves the area, she said the neighbourhood’s drug problems must stop.
“I love (living) within 20 minutes walking of Parliament Hill,” said Manson-Singer. “(But) this should not be the drug capital.”
One of more than 100 people who attended the Ottawa Police Services Board’s Combatting Drugs in Our Community meeting last night, Manson-Singer and other residents are being encouraged to report drug and prostitution in their area in order to help police fight problems downtown, said Staff-Sgt Paul Johnston.
“You’re in the community 24 hours a day,” he said. “We’re there 10 hours a day.”
Pete Gauthier, who leads the Ottawa Police Drug Unit, said that drug statistics have gone up here over the last year.
While search warrants have gone to 87 in 2007 from 54 in 2006, crack seized has gone up to 3,000 grams from 1,061 grams in the past year.
Although 66 drug labs were dismantled in 2007, at least 200 more still remain in the city, Gauthier said.
Crack is the big problem, but methamphetamines are also in the mix, said Gauthier.
“I haven’t heard if it’s here in crystal form, but we know it’s here in pill and powder form,” he said. “We have a big problem with it.”
Lowertown resident Lisa Grinham said the parks near her house are littered with addicts’ discarded needles.
She wants people to voice their concerns to the police and to their elected officials.
While harm reduction discards are a big problem downtown, drug use in the core area is also leading to other crimes as addicts commit an estimated four to seven petty crimes per day in order to feed their addictions, said Johnston.
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