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Aprodicio Laquian: As far as I know, there has been no comprehensive and thorough evaluation of the effectiveness of the Safe Injection Site program. Supporters and advocates claim it has been effective and have lobbied to continue the program's funding. Detractors share your view that it has not been effective. Personally, I believe that a more thorough evaluation of claims and counter claims that provide statistically valid answers to the questions you raised has to be done by the city. What is obvious, however, is that if economic, social, housing and poverty reduction measures are not implemented in the DTES, the safe injection site program will only have limited effectiveness because drug addiction is only a part of the overall problem in the area.
Anti Fascist from Canada writes: How to fix the Downtown Eastside? Why not give Canadians a guaranteed standard of living so that the people who reside in the DTES can afford to go back to the places they came from to live. I think that would be a start. Remember the residents of that area were not born in the DTES, they come from everywhere, from Cornerbrook to to Kyoquot. They come because it's warmer, you die on the street in winter elsewhere in Canada. [Your thoughts Professor Laquian?]
Aprodicio Laquian: In Canada where freedom of movement is enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedom, there is no way we can make residents of DTES return to their original place of origin and stay there even with a guaranteed income and standard of living. This is why changing the situation in the DTES is important so that it will not become a magnet attracting these types of migrants.
George Smiley from Canada writes: Improving the Downtown Eastside is not the same as changing the behaviour of the current residents of the Downtown Eastside. The real estate/community problem is simple, the people problem is probably beyond any currently known solution. The current population will likely be moved along, while the DTES becomes gentrified. I recall it happening in areas such as Tribeca and Soho in NYC, and in many areas of London.
Aprodicio Laquian: You are correct in observing that a solution to the problems in the DTES is not the same as changing the behaviour of the current residents. However, how can one improve the conditions in the DTES if some of the current residents are not moved along? Is it more humane for Canadian society to keep the homeless, the physically and mentally ill, and the drug addicted to continue living as they currently do in the DTES? Contrary to what you said, there are some known solutions to the people problem but they are vilified as "gentrification." Solving the DTES problem will require the in-migration of more people to make it a more "balanced" community in terms of age cohorts, gender, income levels, educational attainment, employment, family composition, etc. It will also mean changing the types of housing in the area as well as commercial activities, employment opportunities, social services and other factors that make for a more livable and vibrant community. The examples of Tribeca and Soho you mentioned are replicated in inner city redevelopment projects all over the world (the Tokyo waterfront, Shanghai's Nanjing Road, Hanoi's Hong Khiem Lake area) as well as in Toronto's Cabbage Town, Vancouver's Yaletown and Coal Harbour, Boston's Waterfront, New York City's Times Square, etc. that are all cited as very successful urban redevelopment projects.
Grampa Canuck from Belleville writes: I'm pleased to see the item about improving the lives of slum dwellers. Most urban 'renewal' is just an activity in evicting the impoverished to make way for the yuppie classes, without a thought about where the poor will live, if anywhere. The poor have been a class that we want to keep invisible and off the radar, so most development is aimed solely at making them go away.
Aprodicio Laquian: Urban renewal does not necessarily mean driving the poor away to make room for the yuppies. Many successful urban redevelopment projects I know improve the lives of the poor where they live. This can be done by providing affordable housing, basic services and amenities in the improved area. Considering the high value of land in the DTES, redevelopment can generate enough resources to cross-subsidize programs to help the current residents stay there. Many of the poor people who can live independently will find a better life in a safer, cleaner and more economically viable DTES that is an integral part of a livable Vancouver.
Brodie Fenlon, globeandmail.com: We've used up all of our time. Thank you again Professor Laquian. Readers can continue the discussion here on the comments thread to the main article.