Downtown Residents Association

Russil Wvong

We moved from New West to Vancouver in May 2001, so I'm no longer involved with the New Westminster Downtown Residents Association. Things have improved a lot since 1998 -- the drug dealers no longer seem to be a problem.

I live in downtown New Westminster. New West is a municipality in Greater Vancouver of about 40,000 people. It's on the Fraser River, and it's one of the oldest towns in B.C., from the days when the river was an important form of transportation. There's quite a few heritage buildings in the downtown area. More recently, the Skytrain line was constructed, making it extremely convenient to live in downtown New Westminster and commute to Metrotown in Burnaby (which is what I do) or downtown Vancouver. I like living here: it has something of a "small-town" feel to it.

Late in 1997, Lower Mainland crack dealers moved into downtown New Westminster in large numbers. The Downtown Residents Association was revived by Ernie Richmond and Lila Wood to try to combat the problem.

In October 1998, police across the Lower Mainland arrested more than 100 drug dealers, which has solved the immediate problem: drug activity is way down. Over the longer term, though, the drug dealers and drug users may start coming back. (As of August 1999, the problem doesn't seem to have reappeared.)


In April 1999, a Downtown Partnership for Community Livability was set up. This partnership was sponsored by the Downtown Business Improvement Association, the Downtown Residents Association, and the City's Task Force on Community Problems and Social Issues. The idea is to involve all of the stakeholders in the downtown in improving community livability and solving community problems. Subcommittees have been set up to address specific issues: property and area improvements, crime and nuisance behavior, negative image, economic development, traffic.

What you can do

If you'd like to help out, New Westminster has a community crime prevention program, which includes volunteer citizen patrols. Other cities (e.g. Portland and Seattle) have had considerable success with an "in-your-face" approach to chasing out drug dealers. For more details about volunteering and about crime prevention, contact the New Westminster Police. You can also contribute suggestions or comments through a Q&A forum.

Information about crack cocaine

Addiction Services, run by the BC government, has a referral service at (604) 660-9382.

There's a Vancouver branch of Cocaine Anonymous.

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Last updated 27 August 1999