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'A plea for help': Over a hundred gather to talk needles, garbage, violence in North False Creek

Last Updated Sep 12, 2018 at 6:31 am PDT

(Monika Gul, NEWS 1130 Photo)

People in North False Creek want increased lighting, signage, and regular patrols in the park

Organizers say meeting is a "plea for help" in finding solutions to what community says it growing problem

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Fed up with used needles, garbage, tents, and violence, over 100 people met at Crosstown Elementary School Tuesday night to discuss solutions.

Organizers with False Creek Residents Association opened the meeting with “we can’t live like this anymore,” and many shared the sentiment.

People feel the issue at Andy Livingstone Park and the surrounding area is only getting worse, with some saying they see evidence of unaddressed homelessness and drug addiction issues every single day.

The meeting attracted concerned parents, teachers, police, medical staff, and politicians — all hoping a sustainable solution is eventually reached.

“We’re really hoping that we can find a solution that isn’t just year to year but we can go forward with,” says Renee De St Croix with her two young children beside her.

“Just making sure that we have regular park patrols and ongoing surveillance and that sort of thing to make sure that we’re keeping the park clean and safe for kids.”

Jonathan Heil has only lived in the area for 6 months but it’s been enough time for him to notice the problem.

“Trying to walk my dog first thing in the morning before the clean up crews get out, it’s dicey. It’s like a minefield,” he says. “I don’t think anybody should be allowed in the park or around the school grounds here between certain hours and if you’re caught there you’re dragged out.”

Matt Taylor has lived in the neighbourhood for 25 years and has seen the problem worsen over time.

“Mayor [Gregor Robertson] was gonna solve the homelessness problem by 2015 and he didn’t,” he says. “I think it’s just lip service, I think. Everybody’s concerned and everybody wants but I don’t think anybody is really willing to do what needs to be done.”

Gerry, who didn’t want to say his last name, has lived in the area for about 5 years and wants to see more enforcement.

“Pretty soon there’s nowhere even for the kids to go. Can’t even walk your dog in case they get stabbed by a needle. It’s pathetic in this city, to be honest with you,” he says “Main and Hastings, you see the same three drug dealers on the street dealing drugs, no police around, but as soon as you’re on your cell phone or speeding, they want to bust you for that.”

Others say increased lighting, signage, and regular patrols in the park, as well as increased treatment options and social assistance for those who need it will help address the issue.

Many concerned parents saying they don’t want to wait for a child to get pricked by a needle before taking action.