Nameless hell in Vancouver

Vancouver | “The vision is worth a million dollars, that’s for sure.”

Also read: The election campaign in the wake of the great human tragedy

From his orange tent located in CRAB Park on the outskirts of Vancouver Harbor, David wiped the view over the wall of cranes and containers over the rocky mountains in the distance.

David, of Sioux descent, has been homeless for ten years.

“When my wife died, I gave up everything and started doing drugs and became homeless,” he tells me.

He started opioids and then tried heroin.

Seventeen Canadians die every day from overuse of painkillers.

Housing and drug crises are a dangerous combination in the federal rides of Vancouver Center and Vancouver East.

A cocktail augmented by infection, it emerges in broad daylight in the Downtown East Side District near CRAP Park.

Downtown East

Photo Guilloma Saint-Pierre

Hastings Street East brings together four, five, six blocks or more.

Women, men, teenagers, tens of thousands of people lying on the sidewalk, cracking pipes in hand. Nothing to do with even the darkest corners of Montreal.

As a journalist, we often look closely at tragedies. But this ballad of hostings shocked me because I was there a few times in my life.

Worse than ever

“It’s worse than an epidemic,” promises Sarah Blythe, founder of First Prevention SiteExcess amount In the country, it is located on the Downtown East site.

“People have lost their jobs, the number of vulnerable people has increased, and drugs are more toxic than ever,” he explains from the terrace of his apartment.

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Our conversation is constantly interrupted by the sound of sirens. “Sorry, this is all the time.”

British Columbia experienced its deadliest year in 2020 with 1,716 high deaths. With 1,011 people losing their lives in the first six months of the year, it is a tragic record to win this year as well.

The Excess Prevention Association, led by Sarah Fly, can welcome up to 900 people every day who come to consume in the glorious area.

From hotels to shelters

To accommodate the homeless, governments have converted many old abandoned hotels into dormitories, where rooms are rented for $ 375 a month.

But these places are not for everyone. David dated with them, but he did not want to know anymore. “It’s an amazing scene out there,” he says.

At the foot of the small hill where David had set up his temporary shelter, John spread out his goods on the ground to dry in the sun after they had been caught in the rain the previous day.

Homeless John prefers to set up his tent there rather than live in dilapidated hotels that have been converted into dormitories.

Photo Guilloma Saint-Pierre

Homeless John prefers to set up his tent there rather than live in dilapidated hotels that have been converted into dormitories.

He also wants his freedom more than shelters.

The carpenter, who specializes in making kitchen cabinets, has not worked full-time for twenty years after a back injury.

He only works in the winter to buy roofing during the cold months.

“It’s so easy to find a place here,” he says jokingly.

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Finding shelter in Vancouver is very challenging. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is about $ 2,000 per month.

David tries to get out of it. He starts doing odd construction work again, he meets a woman who shares his tent and saves some money.

“I want to get out of it. I want to stop. I’m not having fun anymore.”

“I want to get out of the downtown Eastside,” he adds. Find a small foundation somewhere. “

But the beach was steep for someone hit by a rock.

“Finding a place to rent 30 years ago was not so difficult. 20 years ago. Then about 10 years ago, it started to get annoying.

“I was still working at the time. My rent took up half of my salary.”

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