So let it be written…
I’d like to add a postscript to last week’s column concerning the violence on Whalley’s infamous 135A Street strip and what I see as the city’s need to seriously re-think the future of this desperate stretch of road.
My column included a profound list of victims of violence along 135A. I failed to mention in that sad catalogue Donald Williams Deweyn, 63, who was stabbed to death in the 10600-block of 135A Street in July 2014. Sorry for the oversight; I meant no disrespect.
Not so surprisingly, two days after my column entitled “Whalley’s violent 135A Street claims yet another victim” was published, a 25-year-old man was stabbed in the 10600-block of 135A Street on Saturday morning, and taken to hospital in serious condition.
Though the column focused on victims of violence, it generated considerable debate on the plight of the homeless, mentally ill and drug abusers, who sadly are among the potential victims of this street’s culture of violence. For some reason, many people speak of drug abuse and homelessness as though they are necessarily connected. They are not. There are, of course, drug abusers who are homeless and/or mentally ill. There are also homeless and mentally ill people who do not abuse drugs.
Whatever the case, anyone frequenting the infamous 135A Street strip, as it is, is in a danger zone. It cannot be pleasant, to say the least, for clients of the Surrey Food Bank on City Parkway to have to come so close to this Roman wilderness of a street in order to feed themselves and their families.
Incidentally, human beings need to eat to survive; human beings do not need to abuse drugs to survive. The juxtaposition of these two situations in such close proximity is certainly unfortunate.
I have been reporting on this troubled neighbourhood for more than 25 years now and remember in my early days interviewing owners of mom-and-pop businesses that used to thrive there. To illustrate my frustration with the monster 135A Street has increasingly become, I called for a moat to be dug around it, with razor wire fencing and scarecrows as well. Remarkably, some readers took this literally.
Perhaps, had I suggested that giant helicopters equipped with huge cables and great steel hooks fly the street away and drop it into the middle of Georgia Strait, these readers might have recognized the commentary as figurative.
Speaking of commentary, I drew abuse aplenty after Postmedia re-published my column online. On a personal note, I’d like to thank Jason Christian for calling me a “douche bag,” Ron White for calling me a “moron” and Robert Lee for asking me if I’m “stupid.”
Keepin’ it classy, gentlemen. Time to grow up now.
Richard Guerrinha wrote that I have “mental limitations.”
We all do, Richard, we all do.
Sandra Aspol Smith suggested I live in “a very singular bubble of ignorance.”
I have to admit, that one is kind of clever.
Also, a big thank-you to Postmedia’s web editors for failing to uphold their company’s commitment to maintain a civil forum for discussion free of personal attacks. Well done. I’d also like to thank them for publishing a photo of an unconscious homeless woman along with my column, which did not mention the homeless at all.
Again, well done.
Anyway, back to the important stuff: I believe the city is faced with a moral imperative to develop a new plan for 135A Street considering the tally of crime victims this strip of road has already claimed.
So let it be done.
Tom Zytaruk is a staff writer with the Now. Email him at email@example.com