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EDITORIAL – Would mandatory drug treatment help us get our streets back?

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

ANY VISIT TO THE DOWNTOWN or Tranquille Corridor these days can leave the impression we’re losing control of our streets. It’s part of the social pandemic that threatens to get out of hand.

COVID-19 — that other pandemic — has significantly reduced the number of shoppers in both zones and maybe that makes the issue more obvious.

And maybe it’s the apparent tendency of the courts to release suspects rather than send them off to super-spreader confinement, but there definitely seems to an uptick in criminal activity.

There has been an alarming number of drug-trade executions of late and some of the less serious stuff is taking on a bizarre twist. There was the guy who climbed into someone’s car as it was stopped in traffic.

And the fugitive couple who conveniently drove into a police parking lot where they were apprehended. There was the guy who smashed his way into a store and left with a shopping cart full of stolen merchandise.

In another store, a shop lifter chased an employee with a hammer and knife. And an RCMP officer was punched and kicked after he responded to a call for help.

While a lot of things have a role in this downturn in social order, the drug trade is a big one. It’s no wonder a large majority of Canadians — 88 per cent — favour mandatory, court-ordered treatment for drug addictions both for the good of the addicted and the safety of the public.

Aside from the issue of individual rights, however, does it work? Reports from places that have tried it vary, and it’s certainly fraught with peril.

Support for mandatory treatment, though, reflects hardening attitudes towards the problem. Canadians still support supervised injection sites and decriminalization but they want results.

They’re saying there’s a place for a stick as well as a carrot. Taking a look at what’s happening on our streets, it’s not surprising.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (8130 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Would mandatory drug treatment help us get our streets back?

  1. tony brumell // March 3, 2021 at 2:39 PM // Reply

    The question is obvious. The need is just as obvious. Many big cities have the same disease. That is a council who through misplaced compassion are failing to do the necessary thing. The videos I have told you about before are extremely important in their addressing the problem. Please watch “Seattle is dying ” and “The fight for the soul of Seattle ” Kamloops has the same sickness and the extent of the problem will be the same in only a few years.

  2. Don R Reid // March 3, 2021 at 12:39 PM // Reply

    this problem seems to be growing — in last few days I have talked to several merchants both in west Victoria and Landsdowne Mall — there complaints are all the same — they have to be on guard all the time and/or hire security — walking for London Drugs to Save-On is a real experience and I have been verbally assaulted a couple of times for no apparent reason — no wonder people don’t want to shop downtown —

  3. Mel Formanski // March 3, 2021 at 10:32 AM // Reply

    As a parent of a meth addict, I can tell you, that it would be very welcome if there was ongoing, mandatory addiction help for all drug users. Surprisingly the vast majority of addicts are not opioid users yet we continue to throw money at that end of the spectrum. We have tried for 4 years to find treatment for my son who desperately wants to get clean but every door we are sent to says NO, we only do opioid treatment not meth. Addicts need more than a 5 or 6-day treatment program. They need one on one counselling and ongoing mental health support. Last week I phoned 5 drug treatment counsellors, left messages but never heard back from any. Mandatory treatment would be a great option for all addicts and you would see a tremendous drop in crime and there would be huge savings in the long term to our health care system.

  4. Mandatory death sentence for the non using importer or seller of these destructive drugs would reduce supply and incentive, leaving treatment to government and user

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