Safety concerns downtown: Vancouver group concerned says families don't have enough of a voice
VANCOUVER -- A strange incident caught on camera in downtown Vancouver earlier this week is just one example of why residents have safety concerns, according to a group that says it's trying to give families a voice.
Video from Davie and Granville streets Wednesday afternoon shows a half-naked man running into traffic. He climbs onto a vehicle as the driver honks their horn.
The man then walks down the street, and can be seen picking up a sandwich board and throwing it.
Vancouver police said in an email to CTV News there were multiple 911 calls made about the incident. The man "appeared to be high on drugs and was acting erratically and aggressively" toward passersby, Const. Tania Visintin said.
He was taken into custody under the Mental Health Act, then brought to hospital, where he was held under the care of psychiatric staff.
No one was injured in the incident.
Incidents like that are becoming the new normal, say members of the group Safer Vancouver.
The group says discarded needles, open use of illicit drugs and human feces are becoming commonplace, and that families don't have enough opportunity to have their voices heard.
"There are 10,000 children that live down here," Teresa Mund of Safer Vancouver told CTV News in an interview Thursday.
"Are we not allowed to have seniors and children to have a nice neighbourhood? That's all we want."
She said the group isn't asking anyone to leave, or implying they aren't welcome, "but behave."
Shane Ekeli, who lives in Yaletown, said the policies in place aren't working.
"Not making families feel safe. Pushing families to the suburbs. Making them travel in and out of the city for work. Not making children the priority," he said.
Another member of Safer Vancouver said she expects the situation to become an election issue.
"We're taxpayers, we're voters. We're going to make the decision in the next election, and we're going to vote for change," Kelly Tompkins said.
The group says it's pushing for provincial and federal help with Vancouver's opioid crisis, a message that was also delivered earlier in the day by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.
The federal leader called for Ottawa to declare that the opioid epidemic is a national public health emergency, citing B.C.'s death toll as evidence of a pandemic as severe as the COVID-19 crisis.
The latest numbers showed 170 people died last month of illicit drug overdose – the highest number ever recorded in a single month in the province.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says more than 15,000 people have died in the last four years across the country.