Addiction Issues Need Attention

Rogue Knitting
Rogue knitting in the downtown south core... click for full sized image
Needle disposal
Red Stickers are not the solution to safely dispose of used needles

THUNDER BAY – Editorial – Thunder Bay is using the wrong tools as our front line assault team on the area of addiction. The issue can end up being one that police may have to deal with. Police resources are much better directed into projects like Project Dolphin where the major drug busts can dismantle the networks that generate some of the issues residents see on our streets.

However using the Police as our frontline face for combatting addiction issues, is not the best solution.

So what solutions work?

There are several. First put resources into programs so people don’t end up trapped in a cycle of addiction in the first place.


One issue that keeps rearing up in the downtown core are needles all over our streets.

One solution is simple. Pack fewer needles in the brown paper bag. Perhaps using a merit approach where someone who brings back used needles in a Sharps Container can get more needles would work too.

Needle service
The cost of wasting 18 or 19 needles should be examined by City Council

The use of a needle exchange saves tax dollars. It saves money in the healthcare sector as dangerous diseases like Hep C, or AIDS are not transmitted. However the continued instances of bags of needles, unused needles on the streets and alleyways of downtown is a demonstration that there is a need for greater oversight.

Calling the program a ‘Needle Exchange‘ is likely inaccurate. As there is no apparent ‘exchange’ happening in too many cases, 

downtown core
Backlanes in the downtown core are often littered with needles

Another issue is that Superior Points runs Monday to Friday. The problem doesn’t go away on weekends. The fault is not with Superior Points, but in the funding of the program.

The same holds true for all social services issues.

The Thunder Bay Police from 17:00EDT on Friday night until 09:30EDT on Monday morning are being put in the position of being Thunder Bay’s front line responders for social ails.

It is a very costly means of solving the problem. Many of the members of the Sunshine List of top salaried workers in Ontario are Police Officers. They work hard, but they should be doing more policing and less social work.

For taxpayers, seeking solutions, one might be having the District Social Services Administration Board put in place a new policy of staggered hours for staff. We live in a world that runs seven days a week. 

Thunder Bay faces serious issues with people needing assistance. Shutting down at five for the weekend is not working.

What Works?

It is likely some in the city feel that far too many people simply don’t care.

Well that just isn’t true. 

There is a new thing showing up in the downtown core. Roque Knitting.

Rogue Knitting
Rogue knitting in the downtown south core… click for full sized image

Last weekend, a crew of volunteers ‘Flower bombed the Bank’ on East Victoria Ave. The area was cleaned up, flowers were planted, trees were planted. There were even some decorations put up in the space.

The results? A week later, the space is still quite clean. This morning, there was one broken beer bottle. There was one discarded coffee cup.

One the one side of the space, people had put down cardboard boxes to sit on, rather than sit on the concrete.

Caring for Space Makes a Difference

When people step up, it makes a difference. Often people seem to feel that ‘someone’ should do something, often the truth is that ‘someone’ is you.

Flower Bombing
Flower bombing The Bank – A week later the space still looks great.

Volunteers installed garbage containers, and are taking on the task to keep an caring eye on the project.

The Thunder Bay Sports Hall of Fame is another shining example of how caring for a property makes a real difference.

Sports Hall of Fame
The Sports Hall of Fame always looks inviting

Thunder Bay City Hall is another example of doing it right. 

City Hall
City Hall is clean green and beautiful

That is a sharp contrast to the Thunder Bay Museum.

Thunder Bay Museum
Thunder Bay Museum


Thunder Bay Museum
Thunder Bay Museum front walk way is often littered with weeds full of needles and trash


Last summer a group of youth approached the Thunder Bay Museum offering to help by cleaning up and installing a tire garden along the often litter filled west side of the building. There was no apparent interest.

Not to pick on Museum staff, but last week, a broken vial that apparently contained hash oil was on the front steps for five days. It is almost as if no one working their ever walked in front door.

Thunder Bay Museum.
Youth and others have offered to beautify the area but have had no success.

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