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Evolution of Victoria's downtown drug dealing hotspots


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#1 Mike K.

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 09:36 AM

A post I made in another thread got me thinking about the evolution (and growth) of downtown's drug dealing hotspots. It seems that no matter what the police do the dealers keep coming back, keep offering to sell drugs to practically any individual who walks past them and their numbers are growing.

In the mid-90's Centennial Square was the "seedy" part of downtown where dealers and buyers converged. I believe the square become more popular after transit relocated bus stops from the Aveda block (one block south) to Centenn.

In the late-90's the dealers returned to the Aveda block after police stepped up surveillance from the Fairfield Hotel across the street from Centenn. Eventually the drug dealing crossed over to where Blenz is now and that's also where the Courtney Walls (correct spelling/name?) murder happened. The dealers remained there for a while.

Then in the early 2000's they started moving up towards Yates and Douglas and took over the entire block along Douglas so pedestrians would be accosted from Blenz all the way up to what used to be KFC.

Eventually the dealing spilled over to the entire block of Yates between Douglas and Broad (I guess early to mid 2000's) and has festered in that location to have become a ghetto-ized area where on a typical evening there will be more drug dealers than average individuals on the sidewalk. In fact, that stretch can get bloody intimidating when the sun goes down and the perceived safety factor diminishes.

On top of the issues on the west side of Douglas, the east side of Douglas is now catering to more dealers specifically around the area of 7-11 and east along Johnson to where Our Place used to be. Hopefully Our Place's move will eventually weed out the dealers there but they still feel right at home among the nooks and crannies and recessed doorways along much of that block.

I assume there are other "hotspots" but I'm either unaware of them or never walk where they may be. I wouldn't be surprised if the areas around the needle exchange and Our Place are also candy shops of sorts but cater more-so to hardcore drug users than average individuals.

I have to say that my tolerance of the blatant downtown dealing has just about dried up. The other day walking between Broad and Douglas along Yates I was asked 7 times for drugs! This included offers for heroin, crack, weed, E, and one guy who I believe was mumbling mescaline(!) but I wasn't about to ask him to repeat his offer.

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#2 B.Bridge

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 10:14 AM

In the 80's I lived in that area. Occasionally I was asked if I wanted to buy pot, but that was it. The place was crawling with prostitutes then, and there were half a dozen homeless people, and things were pretty tame, friendly and safe. Now I am asked to buy everything there and I just want to plow these people in the face but they probably have weapons. Where the hell are the police? I witness deals all the time and see screwed up people spitting, barfing, and spinning in the streets and I see businesses suffer and close. Now with A&B gone, things are about to get much worse there. Again, I ask, where the hell are the police? I don't want anyone to ask me to buy their stupid sick crap. It is disgusting and rude and the whole scene makes me sad and makes my skin crawl.

#3 D.L.

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 11:13 AM

When I was in high school in the mid-90s it was always the north side of Yates between Blanshard and Broad that we would walk down looking for *stuff*. Now it seems it's just on Yates between Douglas and Broad, not up to Blanshard anymore. Not that I go shopping there anymore though.

#4 KublaKhan

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 11:53 AM

I posted this elsewhere in this forum, but I'll reiterate (briefly) the story here: last summer my four year old son and I were offered an astonishing array of pharmaceutical goods. The sales agent had his inventory spiel down to a five word shopping list, and he went through the whole thing with precision as though he had been repeating the list as a mantra for years.

My son asked if the guy was a friend, what he was doing, who he was, etc.

How does one explain this to a four year old?

#5 gumgum

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 12:35 PM

I would tell him that they are people sick in the head, selling to other sick people.

#6 Mike K.

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 12:46 PM

When I was in high school in the mid-90s it was always the north side of Yates between Blanshard and Broad that we would walk down looking for *stuff*. Now it seems it's just on Yates between Douglas and Broad, not up to Blanshard anymore. Not that I go shopping there anymore though.


Interesting. So along Yates between Blanshard and Broad the area dried up in the late 90's/early 2000's only to resurface now. Luckily it's only between Broad and Douglas and not up through to Blanshard.

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#7 aastra

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 01:02 PM

I have to say that my tolerance of the blatant downtown dealing has just about dried up. The other day walking between Broad and Douglas along Yates I was asked 7 times for drugs!


I'm getting the impression you're pointing a finger at the police. Do you actually believe the police could effectively patrol such an enormous area?? That stretch of Yates between Broad and Douglas must be 50 metres long AT LEAST (probably closer to 60 metres). Off the top of my head I'm going to guess it would require at least one officer, maybe even two. It's a logistical nightmare.

Next you'll be telling me the police should be able to keep the peace on that block of Wharf Street where the pizza places are. In your fantasy world I suppose we'd have a beat cop or two on every troublesome corner. Do you have any idea how many troublesome corners there are in downtown Victoria? Six? Eight? NINE?

#8 Mike K.

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 01:16 PM

Haha...

How here's a thought. Perhaps the downtown fuzz should start job shadowing Victoria's finest. No no, not Esquimalt cops, but parking commissionaires. Those peeps keep thousands of parking spots around downtown in check and there's, what, six or so of them working during any one shift?

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#9 aastra

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 01:39 PM

Downtown Victoria is tiny when you're talking about parking spots but it's gigantic when you're talking about drug dealers and crime in general.

#10 G-Man

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 01:57 PM

When I first moved to Vic in the early 90's the Whale Wall park was the best place to buy drugs or so I have been told.

#11 victorian fan

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 02:07 PM

I'm old enough to remember public drunkenness, vagrancy and begging laws. Skid row was in the old town and drugs (heroin) was most likely procured in Chinatown. Almost always older men. Nothing was highly visible and Victorians seldom talked about it. Out of sight, out of mind.
Slowing familes broke up, a variety of drugs and increased use and mental institutions closed down.
I have no answer. I seldom stroll downtown anymore.

#12 Mike K.

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 02:42 PM

Oh yeah, lower Johnson was pretty sketchy back in the day. I'm not old enough to remember but I've heard multiple individuals talk about the differences between then and now.

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#13 jklymak

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 03:49 PM

Well, more beat cops would be great for public safety. However, the whack-a-mole nature of drug enforcement doesn't seem to get anywhere. I think its time to declare prohibition a failure.

#14 Nparker

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 05:39 PM

I lot of the problem has to do with our so-called "justice" system. When the police and judges have their hands tied by "rights of the criminal" laws, and sentences, even for repeat offenses, are laughable, the "war" on drugs is a lost cause. Perhaps we should try legalization on for size. Better yet, let the government run the drug business, and in short order all profit will be drained from it anyway.;)

#15 KublaKhan

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 06:07 PM

My suggestion would be to blast the area with extremely bright light during evening hours, and play calming easy listening jazz throughout the day.

#16 Nparker

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 06:17 PM

My suggestion would be to blast the area with extremely bright light during evening hours, and play calming easy listening jazz throughout the day.


The result: the problem moves to a darker, quieter location. Do we then illuminate all of the CRD with nuclear-detonation level lighting and hire Burt Bacharach and Jewel to wander minstrel-style? I am thinking perhaps lighting & music are not the best way to resolve the issue.

#17 Holden West

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 06:20 PM

...play calming easy listening jazz throughout the day.


Then the streets will be crawling with accountants and dental office receptionists.
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#18 jklymak

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 06:24 PM

^^^I dunno, I can't see tougher laws and sentencing doing too much to curb dealers on Yates. Most of them look like they can't think much beyond their next fix. Throwing the book at them would just change the faces and incarcerate a lot of desperate folks at great expense.

I'm sure you could move the problem somewhere else. But so long as there are buyers there will be dealers.

#19 Caramia

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 07:35 PM

Just over a decade ago there was a big crack down/clean up of downtown. I was living in North Park at the time. Within a couple of months our few blocks were overrun with dealers, the weakest people in our community were addicts, there were prostitutes on Mason Street and Hep C & HIV was in our social circle. I don't know what the solution is, but I know moving it into the core neighbourhoods isn't it.

#20 KublaKhan

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 01:21 PM

The result: the problem moves to a darker, quieter location. Do we then illuminate all of the CRD with nuclear-detonation level lighting and hire Burt Bacharach and Jewel to wander minstrel-style? I am thinking perhaps lighting & music are not the best way to resolve the issue.


Burt, YES. Jewel, NO.

Jewel used to live in her van up in Alaska before becoming a millionaire. She knows about living on the low-down. We're trying to discourage that sort of thing around Yates.

If you think Yates and Douglas are creepy, try hanging out around John St. (pardon the pun) at 10 PM. The push has been to relocate this...um, what...community...to industrial areas, and away from well-lit areas [read: safe and police-patrolled].

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