Here's a news flash: People continue to inject illegal drugs in the Downtown Eastside.
Tell us something we don't know, you say. But what if I told you not everyone shooting illegal drugs is using the Insite supervised drug injection facility on East Hastings.
Yes, you say again, that makes sense since Vancouver Coastal Health estimates there are 12,000 to 14,000 injection drug users in the city, with more than one third living in the Downtown Eastside.
Accommodating all those people at Insite, which only has 12 injection booths and is not open 24 hours a day, is obviously impossible; studies also indicate drug users won't travel across town to use Insite.
So where am I going with all these facts and figures? I give you Twitter. Being the switched-on social media reporter I've come to be, I read a tweet shortly before 6 p.m. last Thursday from @InsiteVan. This is what it said: "Currently 24 people waiting 35-plus minutes to shoot up. Open another #Insite!!! (countless leaving to shoot in alleys)."
No matter which side of the drug policy debate you're on, people shooting illegal drugs into their veins in a back alley is not a good thing.
So what is VCH doing about it? Not much, right now. In fact, there's been no movement on this front since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in September 2011 that Insite could remain open indefinitely.
The discussion then was whether the court's decision would lead to more injection sites opening in Vancouver and across the country.
So far that hasn't happened, although groups in Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg are actively lobbying for facilities in their cities. Here in Vancouver, the health agency is on record of considering incorporating injection services into health clinics that provide other harm reduction needs such as needle exchanges.
Before it adopts this model, the agency is first focused on ensuring the Dr. Peter Centre gets legal status to operate its three-stall injection site, according to Anna Marie D'Angelo, VCH spokesperson. The centre, which caters to people with AIDS, mental health issues and addictions, has operated its injection room since 2003 without an exemption from the feds.
As I reported in 2006, the Vancouver Police Department wasn't interested in shutting down the illegal facility, saying it wasn't a threat to public order. So why VCH's concern now?
"If you have a [licensed practical nurse] or [registered nurse], they have to have insurance and you can't be in an illegal milieu to have that insurance," D'Angelo said.
That didn't seem to be a concern for the past 10 years. But I digress. More on this another time.