A needle, cook spoon, sterile water and a flap of heroin paper -- all discarded in the lane behind the Regent Hotel. Years ago, IV drug users would often share needles, cook with rusty kitchen spoons and draw puddle water into their syringes when they needed to fix. These days, all the paraphernalia is handed out for free at places like Insite, needle exchanges, rooming houses and mobile vans that cruise the DTES to hand out care packages. The poison, of course, is still purchased on the black market.
The Pantages Theatre has been a flashpoint lately for housing activists. The theatre is being ripped down and turned into a mix of market and social housing. The project will include 79 condos, sold at market prices, 18 social housing units, and 2,500 sq ft of arts space. Some housing activists think the project should be 100 per cent social housing.
My partner and I stopped to check this couple after noticing some suspicious activity in the lane across from the police station. The take-down lights from the police car cast some neat shadows and made for a cool photo. The mural in the background was created a couple years back in an attempt to beautify the area and reduce crime.
Women are among the most vulnerable on the Downtown Eastside. They can be easy prey for drug dealers, johns and street enforcers, and often when they are victimized they have no immediate way to call for help. Many cops, including myself, now carry recycled cell phones to hand out to people who are vulnerable or fearful. The phones don't have cell phone plans or contracts, they can be used to call 911 in the case of an emergency.