A year ago, out of personal frustration, Sarnia’s Greg Jones started a Facebook group called ‘Take Back Our City from Meth, Fentanyl and Pills.’
The closed group has already reached 2,500 members and become an information clearinghouse of sorts across the spectrum of Sarnia’s drug culture.
Members post information about crimes, ask questions and offer information about withdrawal, treatment and solutions.
Drug addiction has hurt people important to Jones.
“I just want to try and help clean things up,” he said. “What we do now will affect our children’s future, and it’s not looking good.”
Jones said he began by educating himself and then sharing that knowledge. He’s astounded by what’s learned, he said, including what it’s like to live near a drug house, and the difficulty of getting into treatment programs because of onerous paperwork and long wait times.
Jones doesn’t blame Sarnia Police for the drug problem and the growing citizen frustration it engenders. But he does believe more proactive law enforcement and mental health services are needed.
It would help to have police officers on the street, walking beats or cycling through troubled areas, he said.
“And we need outreach workers. We need to let people know we love and care about them,” he said.
“We need to let them know what’s available.”
Jones said he knows of eight drug houses operating in Sarnia, which he calls a “cancer” affecting property values and ruining the neighbourhood’s quality of life.
“We want to let people know how bad it is out there,” he said.
Last week, The Journal described how business owners in Mitton Village are alarmed by rising drug crime and the erratic and dangerous behaviour of addicts on the street.
Jones said Sarnia’s creation of a Mitton Village Community Development Advisory Committee is a positive step, but it won’t accomplish much until the core issue of addiction is addressed.
“You can put up fancy street lights and flower baskets but that’s not going to solve the problem. If people are threatening to burn businesses down, they’re not going to stay.”
Ultimately though, Jones said he wants the social media initiative to stay positive.
“We have a lot of recovering addicts in our group,” he said. “Some people say to let them all die, but we want to see people get help.”