Downtown Eastside by the numbers

4,600 intravenous drug users live in the Downtown Eastside

587 drug injections happen daily at the Supervised Injection Site; this includes people who return multiple times a day

20 per cent of people in the Downtown Eastside are homeless

87 per cent of the population has Hepatitis C

200 people died of drug overdoses in the Downtown Eastside in 1993, the worst year on record

1997 was the year a public health emergency was declared in the DTES

270, 000 tax dollars were given to VANDU – the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users – last year. VANDU advocates, among other things, for “the right to obtain, prepare and inject drugs, and to be intoxicated on drugs”

49 per cent of police contacts in the Downtown Eastside are believed to be with someone who has a mental illness

80 per cent of Downtown Eastside residents have been previously incarcerated

1 year is the new mandatory minimum jail sentence a repeat offender who is caught selling drugs; 2 years if they’re near a school or caught selling to youth

Sources: VANDU, Supreme Court of Canada, Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Coastal Health, NAOMI Project, Vancouver Courier, Canadian Department of Justice

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10 Responses to Downtown Eastside by the numbers

  1. 9-1-1 Operator says:

    Those numbers are depressing.
    And yet, we carry on.

  2. JustSayin says:

    Yes – it’s all pretty depressing, but a big thumbs up to the new mandatory jail sentences, and a big thumbs down to $270K to VANDU.

    • Raingurl says:

      And just where does this VANDU money come from? I’m pretty P***ED that I had to leave my nice warm bed and cuddly kitty cat to go to work and pay TAXES for that S*IT. NOW I find out that CP rail may go on strike which will affect my commute. The bus I will have to take in the morning goes right past Insight. Yeah, I get to see people sitting on the street while I sleepily make my way to the office. I’m not usually this selfish but I’m pretty P***ED.

      • Mark says:

        Well Raingurl, you could always forgo your middle class life & move to the DTES where you’d be awash in riches thanks to the charity of others. Nothing says good fortune like addiction & bedbugs!

        What you could do is petition the government to close Insite. It’s clearly far cheaper to allow addicts to infect themselves with HIV & then spend their final 18 months of life using up a hospital bed. Or we could fill them full of drugs indefinitely to keep their viral count low.

        As for that bus you take, well that’s subsidized by the taxpayers. If one wanted to go all pocketbook citizen on you, they could argue you should pay 100% of the cost to move you from your suburban home into downtown Vancouver. I mean, after all, YOU did make that choice to live that far away. I won’t even start on how urban dwellers subsidize suburban dwellers.

        It’s important to get sleep too. Lack of sleep is know to cause health risks and increase your chance of heart attack, stroke or accidents. The latter and former all require hospitalization which is paid for by the taxpayers.

        • Raingurl says:

          Hello Mark,

          I’m trying to figure out if you’re being sarcastic or helpful………I’ve been spending time in the DTES for the last six months (never saw one bedbug, btw). I utilized a nurse from Insite this past January when my friend needed medical attention (not drug induced). They were very helpful. Until recently I supported Insite but, like First United Church, all they do is enable the citizens. The motto is suppose to be “Give a hand up, not a hand out” I’m not going to petition the government to close insite.

          As for that transit I take………it costs me $180.00 P/month. I know taxpayers, like myself, are subsidizing it but my monthly pass pays for more than my fair share and the share of the people that constantly get on for free. I did not make the choice to live in the suburbs, Vancouver made the choice for me. How can one justify paying rent of over $1,200 p/month!? Besides, the air is cleaner and I get to share my world with eagles, hawks, racoons, deer and the occasional bear.

          I’m curious to know more about how urban dwellers subsidize my suburban lifestyle. Our police force is federal, I suppose you could mean they pay for services like that?

          Yes, sleep is in important! I get so much in my suburban house than I ever do when I stay the night at my friend’s place in the DTES. How many sirens I hear on a nightly basis when I’m trying to sleep! All I hear in the suburbs are raccoons (and the occasional bear) looking for food!

          Well, like I said, I’m trying to figure out if you were being sarcastic (I’m pretty sure you were) but I am not. I pay dearly for the life I chose and I was a little grumpy when I read this post. I slept in so I had to come to work on an empty stomach and no coffee……..I do know what it’s like to have an empty stomach, btw………life hasn’t always been rosy for Rainy!

      • Janice says:

        Maybe try some volunteer work? Then you might get a real grip on how these souls survive. Instead of complaing how about counting your blessings?You might want to knock off the “oh poor” me syndrome as well. You have no idea. Selfish is an understatement!!!! Why don’t you donate some of your time, food or money to help out??? You might come to see that “those people” you have to see in the mornings, belong to someone just like you!!!!

  3. a says:

    Numbers are not depressing, they are just numbers. How you choose to react to the story you make up about those numbers may be depressing. Or you may choose to wonder how these numbers compare to other numbers. Numbers presented in this way, with no context or comparison are almost worthless. To know that 4,600 IVDU live in the DTES is no very useful if you don’t know how many non-IVDU also live in the DTES, or how many IVDU live in, say, Kerrisdale or Yaletown or even all the rest of Vancouver.
    Steve, I wonder – what was your intention in sharing these numbers?

    • Steve says:

      There are approximately 18,000 people in the Downtown Eastside. The 4,600 IV drug users in the Downtown Eastside accounts for about half of the city’s total population, according to the Supreme Court of Canada’s written decision on Insite.

    • DC says:

      I’d say that when 87% of any non-trivial sized population has Hep. C it’s not just a useless number.

      • a says:

        Fair point on that one, DC. I stand corrected. But most of the others would be much more informative with some context.