Winnipeg woman often approached to buy drugs in public urges city to take action
A Winnipeg woman is fed up over being randomly approached to buy drugs in public and is concerned the activity could lead other community members into a life of addiction if something isn’t done soon.
North End resident Bonnie Thompson wrote a letter to Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, calling on the city to do more to crack down on the open sale of drugs in community gathering places.
“I know that they’re going to get somebody (addicted) here,” said Thompson. “I know there’s a lot of people addicted but there doesn’t seem to be anybody doing anything about it.”
Thompson doesn’t use drugs but said she’s been frequently approached by sellers asking if she wants to buy pills.
She said it’s happened to her in the North End, West End and downtown Winnipeg.
Thompson said it makes her feel anxious and unsafe when someone comes up to her trying to sell drugs.
“I’ve thought of all kinds of things to say to them when they do that,” Thompson told CTV Winnipeg. “Like, ‘No thanks I want to live a long, healthy life’ or ‘No thanks, what are you doing out here?’ I guess it’s a source of income for some people.”
She has no problem saying no but knows it may not be so easy for others.
“Winnipeg is very multicultural and you have a lot of new people whether you’re from up north or from another country – people coming here who aren’t familiar with stuff that happens here and I guess agreeing, trying it. We were young once, too, and impressionable and we tried things.”
In the letter to Bowman dated Feb. 4, 2019, Thompson said, ‘I’m writing to your office today with the hope to address some drug issues that I’ve had to live around and make me feel uncomfortable each day as a resident of Winnipeg.”
“My concerns are that this drug use is escalating and that nobody seems to be doing anything about it.”
Bowman said Tuesday he’s aware of Thompson’s letter and shares her concerns.
“We obviously want to disrupt, to the greatest extent possible, the flow of illicit drugs into our community,” said Bowman. “We’ve had some major busts that have occurred in the city of Winnipeg that have been led by the police service in partnership with other law enforcement agencies across western Canada.”
The mayor pointed to the Winnipeg Police Service’s Illicit Drug Strategy and the newly launched Illicit Drug Task Force – a partnership between the federal government, province and city to crack down on illegal drugs – as a way of combatting the open sale of drugs Thompson is concerned about.
“What I’m going to be looking to from that working group really are recommendations on how three levels of government can do a better job of combatting the rise of meth and opioids in our community in particular,” said Bowman. “We trust that if we’re successful in our actions resulting from that effort that that will mitigate the activities which she raised with me.”
A report from the task force is expected to be publicly released in this coming June.