Surrey NDP MLA’s Harry Bains, Sue Hammell and Bruce Ralston invited the public to a town hall discussion of the Regulation of Recovery Houses in Surrey. The event was held in the Newton Cultural Centre last Thursday evening, April 24th.
A small group of familiar faces from recovery work in the Lower Mainland met first for dinner and a bit of a strategy meeting and then headed over to the event together. The contingent included John Volken, Bil Koonar and Gabrielle Steed from Welcome Home, Jim Stimson from Little House, Neal Berger and Marshall Smith from Cedars at Cobble Hill and me, David Berner, from the Drug Prevention network of Canada. The event was packed, about 100 or so people present.
Harry Bains welcomed everyone, Sue Hammell gave an excellent overview of the issue and Harry Ralston MC’d the evening. Two young men from UBC gave a short presentation about studying harm reduction and methadone for a radio piece they were doing. We were most pleasantly surprised that, far from following the “official story,” they found harm reduction initiatives to be completely failing and counter-productive and they saw methadone for what it is – another market commodity subject to the same criminal activities as any other powerful drug. They were detailed and colorful in their presentation.
Another two speakers told us of their recovery home work.
When the floor microphone was opened for comment, a line was quickly formed with contributors speaking passionately and knowledgeably about the need to rid the community of rogue operations that use and abuse and take advantage of vulnerable people.
Marshall Smith and I both spoke about finding a practical solution within the existing and enforceable local Surrey bylaws. We have offered to help write criteria for registration and to help monitor participating agencies.
I think we all felt that the event was well timed, well run and very positive in its tone and content. The big issue now is, as always, what real steps
We should add that there were several political personalities in attendance as well, including Jinny Sims, MP, Marvin Hunt, Liberal MLA and Lorne Mayencourt from the Premier's office.