Update: Coincidentally, while all of this is going on, VANDU is once again hosting the agitators at Vancouver Cop Watch
The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) is probably the best example of the radical left making a mockery out of the city’s taxpayers. Funded through organizations like Vancouver Coastal Health ($250,437 in 2011), the group has been known for paying addicts to attend anti-gentrification protests, and using their government funded space as the headquarters for an anti-police group known for making racist and hateful attacks.
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) has been made aware of these incidents, but up until now they’ve spent more energy deflecting criticism than actually fixing the problem. Now it seems that the times are a ‘changin for VANDU and VCH is putting them on-notice. Well sort of, like the rest of the city’s drug policy, it seems that VCH is once more engaging in a half-baked approach.
The news comes from a letter sent to VANDU on Thursday from Laura Case, the Executive Director of VCH-Vancouver Community. The letter is a follow-up to a meeting Case held with VANDU’s directors on December 12, 2013. It begins by saying:
“…we are writing to express our concern with some of the practices VANDU has acknowledged engaging in while delivering services on behalf of VCH. Specifically, we are referring to the practice of assisted and/or supervised injection on the VANDU site and in conducting outreach in the community”
If the first thought in your head after reading this was “hey, aren’t they committing a crime?”, then you were probably right. Case explains this further down in the letter:
“These services are not part of the VCH contract with VANDU and without an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) from Health Canada to carry out these activities, VANDU is potentially in contravention of the CDSA”
Potentially is a pretty light word, the act states clearly that these activities would be illegal. There’s also the issue of misuse of government funds- that’s criminal too, right? And, from the appearance of the letter, this appears to be a continuing problem. It’s the weekend, so Case is unavailable to comment- let’s hope she reported her observations to the Vancouver Police.
Now, while it’s promising to see VCH finally standing up against VANDU’s misuse of their resources, there’s an elephant in the room that it appears nobody has been talking about. It’s been common knowledge for a long time that if one wishes to find somewhere to pick-up illegal drugs, all they have to do is to make their way to VANDU or the INSITE supervised injection site.
Here’s how Ludvik Skalicky, a former board member of the Carnegie Community Center Association, described the problem:
Skalicky isn’t the only person who’s made this claim, confirmation has come from two other sources who wish to keep their names private (it’s not easy, nor safe, to be a dissident in the DTES). If this claim is true, it means that VCH is subsidizing space for drug dealers. This is obviously unacceptable, VANDU was contracted for education, prevention and advocacy activities- not for running a crack house.
It’s great that Case and VCH have finally put VANDU on-notice but they need to do a lot more than just write threatening letters. VANDU needs to be audited (both finances and processes), and there needs to be a criminal investigation. And, if VANDU’s office doesn’t already have a video monitoring system, one should be installed post haste and should be audited regularly.
If the audit/investigation proves these allegations are true, VANDU needs to be purged or burnt to the ground- whichever is more effective…