For Nathan Drew the final straw was a discarded syringe his friend’s two-year-old was found playing with in their backyard in the 500 block of Kennedy Street last week.
The alley behind his home is plagued by drug use, the sex trade, thefts and discarded trash, condoms and syringes.
“We found my friend’s two-year-old with a syringe that was stuffed under the fence,” Drew said. “She thought it was a magic marker and was trying to draw with it.”
Thefts happen regularly. Drew caught a man prowling his back yard with a flashlight recently. Ten metres of chain link fence bordering a commercial property was even stolen.
“Shopping buggies end up here on a regular basis,” Drew said. “We find syringes, condoms, lubricant. We were told that the bike police would be coming through here once a day, but we’ve only ever seen them once.”
Residents help clean up the alley and build higher fences.
“Our next door neighbour was dumping out her compost and some guy was staring at her while touching himself,” Drew said. “She thought he was just going to the bathroom until he started talking to her.”
She planted prickle bushes and blackberries behind her property.
By March, Drew was complaining heavily to the city for help.
Randy Churchill, city manager of bylaw services, is aware of the situation.
“What you’ve got is a hot route associated to … some houses there that have drug activity going on – two or three of the houses,” he said.
One house was closed recently and another torn down.
Brambles and fencing in the alley will be removed and surrounding properties bordering the E&N Railway tracks are about to be cleared.
“If you were to turn the page and all of a sudden it’s 2017, you’d have the next development area that’s going to build out and an extension of more nice properties that’s very close and walkable to the downtown, but right now it’s not there,” Churchill said.
John Horn, city social planner, said six new drop boxes along the railway tracks will hopefully encourage drug users to properly dispose of used syringes.
“We’re hoping that catches those individuals who are the most likely to be the users who are discarding the syringes,” Horn said.