Suspected drug users evicted from filthy Pioneer rooms

When Calvin Deng took over management of the Pioneer Inn in March, there were already problems with drugs.

When Calvin Deng took over management of the Pioneer Inn in March, there were already problems with drugs.

“Some people were using and some people were selling,” he said on Thursday, from his post in the lobby of the 202 Motor Inn.

Across the street, the run-down Pioneer had telltale green signs on several of its cracked and broken windows.

On August 24th, three rooms were targeted by the Yukon’s Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods office.

“One was a warning to cease activity and two were terminations,” said Justice spokesperson Chris Beacom on Friday.

The two renters being evicted had to be out by August 30th, he said.

On Friday morning, one of the two residents being evicted was still at the Pioneer.

“The SCAN unit is looking at that right now,” said Beacom.

Everyone has to leave by the end of September anyway, said Deng.

“The place is being shut down.

“And nice condos are going up.”

Only eight rooms are occupied, he added.

Social assistance pays for the rooms.

Some of the tenants will be moved to the Stratford Hotel, which is also managed by Deng.

“The good ones will go to the Stratford,” he said.

The Pioneer is filthy, said Sam (not his real name).

“When I moved in there was no running water in my room for three months, and I was still paying $700 a month.”

Sam would carry buckets of water up to his room, just to flush the toilet.

The room was covered in hair and filth and there was mould all over, he said, pointing up at the musty, blackened bathroom ceiling.

The tub was cracked and the tiles were gone from the wall.

The whole dark room was fusty and covered in grime.

Sam’s door and windows were plastered with Safer Communities’ signs explaining the details of his imminent eviction.

“I came home (a few days ago) and these signs were on the windows,” he said.

“I guess they can SCAN you for anything.”

There was some drug use going on, said Sam.

“But it was no different than what goes on in all the bars in town and lots of other homes in the community.”

So why aren’t the bars being targeted by Safer Communities? he said.

“People assume this problem is basically amongst the poor and the street people,” said Sam.

“And that’s bull.”

There are plenty of people in higher-up positions with drug-use and addiction problems, he said.

“It just goes on behind closed doors.”

And treatment is more readily available for the well-off, said Sam.

“If I wanted to go out to a good rehab, like the one in Victoria (BC), which is probably the best in Canada, it would cost me $10,000,” he said.

“But if I worked for any government office, that would probably be afforded to me for nothing as part of the (health) plan.”

Before the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods office evicts suspected drug users, there should be treatment programs and housing options in place, he said.

“There should be facilities available for these people.”

Safer Communities provides all residents being evicted with the proper documentation, said Beacom.

The paper package includes a copy of the act and a list of community agencies that provide funding, housing and treatment.

The sole treatment program in the territory, run by Alcohol and Drug Services, is often full and is offered to men and women on alternate months.

The Salvation Army is the only emergency shelter in Whitehorse and has 10 beds that are usually full.

Sam, who has nowhere else to go, plans to head out to the bush.

“Nobody gives a shit about anybody down here anyway,” he said.