Port Coquitlam takes different view of shelter

Concerns about needles and harm reduction program linger, says Coun. Brad West, who is also running for mayor

Port Coquitlam may be taking a different view of some of the recommendations contained in a report by a Coquitlam council-initiated task group looking at the community impact of the 3030 Gordon Ave. shelter.

PoCo opposes at least three of the 29 recommendations made by the task group, according to the report, but Brad West, a city councillor who attended task force meetings and is running for mayor, said council has yet to see the report and has not yet adopted a formal position on many of the issues.

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“What I articulated [in task force meetings] is the concern about the neighbourhood around 3030 Gordon and the concerns of neighbours who live in the Fox Park neighbourhood about the issues they are already dealing with," he said. "They are very significant and they don’t seem to be addressed in a meaningful way.

“There would have to be a lot of work done with neighbours to address concerns they already have and to be convinced the service would not exacerbate the problem that already exists.”
Among PoCo's concerns is ongoing needle distribution by Fraser Health — some 77,000 in a year — and it wants the harm reduction program stopped, said West, who said he’s also concerned about a recommendation to install sharps disposal units around the Tri-Cities.

“Basically, the concern is that it would invite more discarded needles and needle use in our parks and playgrounds, and to me it normalizes this idea that needle use in public parks and playgrounds and trails is OK,” he told The Tri-City News, adding that the focus of drug treatment has been harm reduction but more work should be done on treatment and recovery.

“Those individuals who do want to enter treatment, who do want to enter recovery aren’t able to access it… They are facing long waits lists or they aren’t in proximity to where they are. Clearly that is one of things that needs to change.

"The goal should be getting people clean and helping them overcome their addiction."

But he said there a number of task force recommendations that he does support, particularly those such as Block Watch and more RCMP resources.

“Those are important for keeping the trust of the residents who live in the neighbourhood,” West said.

PoCo council was expected to review the task force’s recommendations this week.

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