How the City of Vancouver Failed Occupy Vancouver

It was November 4th, the day after the first overdose at Occupy Vancouver– someone who luckily lived due to the heroic efforts of our volunteer medic, Mathew. The fire department had come to do an inspection on the camp- shake things up for us a bit, guessing the city was losing patience with OV…

When the fire department asked us to take down the tarps that lie over multiple tents, I had to make an objection. I told them that by doing this, addicts with drug problems would be forced to take drugs inside their tent-increasing the risk of someone dying. They paid little attention to what I said- most likely because they were being yelled at by many of the people who lived in the tents.

Strike 1!

I got home, and in my frustration, I decided to write a Tweet to @MayorGregor. The message said:

After a short while I decided I should call the mayor’s office. So I called and left a message.  After a couple of hours I still didn’t get a call back. I was a bit angry by that time- how could he not call me back, or at least send someone to call me! I said to the person taking the message that there is a life/death issue and it was urgent! Perhaps he was too busy campaigning…

Strike 2!

So, I posted another tweet asking if anyone could suggest an organization that could help. One person recommended Union Gospel Mission, but another said a better choice would be Insite, a supervised injection site in East Vancouver.

So, I called Insite.  On my first call the person I spoke with took my phone number, said they didn’t have a pen and were memorizing it. I called back after an hour- they had lost my number, took it down and said someone would call me back soon. A couple hours later I was contacted by a nurse, I explained that we needed someone to ‘outreach’ to people at OV with drug addictions. The nurse agreed to come to the Art Gallery on Saturday morning. Then, at around 8:30pm, I got another call from a supervisor- he didn’t know something was already setup with the nurse, I thanked him for calling and thanked Insite for committing to send someone to do outreach.

The next day I was at home, working on a paper I was writing when I saw a Tweet from @ScanBC  it said that emergency crews were on scene with a unresponsive overdose at the Art Gallery. My heart sunk, and my stomach began to hurt- how could this happen! I did everything I could to stop it!

Strike 3!

Once there was time for things to settle down, I called the medical tent to find out what happened. I was told that someone did come from Insite, but they came after the fatality, and only dropped-off medicines- they neglected to do any outreach. I was raging mad at this, felt they could have saved a life had they come earlier. Today, I am still disappointed, but learned that the victim had been deceased for about 12 hours before she was discovered- so, the tragedy still will have happened.

I’m incredibly disappointed with the VFD, Mayor Gregor’s office, and Insite. Despite being warned, all neglected to take responsibility and respond properly to my requests & warnings. I won’t speculate too much, but it seems like OV was just too politically ‘hot’ for them to handle.  Sad…

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  1. wrong date at the top.
    Tyler Nov 3rd, survived..
    Ashlie Nov 5th, did not.

    1. Indeed, just fixed it. Thanks!

    • Jack on November 14, 2011 at 09:10
    • Reply

    “Most of the kids at #OccupyVancouver are future leaders!”

    LOL, future leaders indeed! Actually I shouldn’t laugh. If anyone still at that freakshow is a future leader we are all in deep deep trouble…

    1. Leaders don’t run away, they work on version 2.0!

  2. You wrote, “addicts with drug problems would be forced to take drugs inside their tent.” How does OV’s inability to effectively police itself against illegal drug use become a failure on the city?

    1. I should have expected my most conservative friend to ask a question like this! You always keep me challenged- thank you Mark…

      First, if you read my story on Occupy Vancouver’s drug problem, you will see that my personal opinion is that we should be helping the addicts find a safe place in a recovery program.

      However, these people were at the square in the Art Gallery before OV was. The first person to overdose had been trying to get into a program for over two months- luckily, after his overdose, we were able to quickly resolve the problem…

      I warned all of the relevant authorities of the risk someone could get hurt- and they didn’t take action. That is one reason. The other is that our city liberalized drug policy without implementing a comprehensive program to help those who fall too hard. They did this in Amsterdam, and rarely do you find people dying on the streets.

      Also, the health authority had full-knowledge that there is a bad batch of heroin in town. There were signs in other parts of the city warning of this- but, despite one overdose at the Art Gallery, they neglected to bring this information to the other’s on-site. There was a complete failure in the system…

    • Trevor on November 14, 2011 at 10:58
    • Reply

    How would someone coming down to do “outreach” have possibly helped a bunch of losers already addicted to drugs? You can’t blame the city for a bunch of drugged out hippies taking over the Vancouver Museum. What you need to do is go home, so that anyone actually doing drugs on the steps of the Museum will be obvious, instead of hidden and dying in one of your illegal tents. Get a life.

    1. To tell them that there is a bad batch of drugs in town so they don’t die! Also, to do a risk assessment on who is most likely to get hurt…

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