A woman sipping a drink while pushing a stroller, a senior walking with a cane, and several patrons at a McDonald’s scattered with fear as a flare exploded inside a busy Vancouver mall, fired by a man with a long history of violence, severe mental illness and drug addiction who was trying to escape a botched theft.

It was a disturbing ordeal for business owner Channing Guenther, who, along with a security guard, tackled the thief inside the International Village Mall as he fled with two packages of Pokémon cards last July.

The thief had “a lifetime of psychiatric and cognitive issues including substance abuse, and these issues appear to have manifested themselves in a number of ways including a history of violence,” wrote a provincial court judge who sentenced him in 2016 for unrelated assaults on his then domestic partner and her 18-month-old child.  Read the rest of this article at The Brantford Expositor…

Calls for better housing and drug treatment in the Downtown Eastside have been heard for years, but this group believes the time is ripe for change: The same cohesive and immediate effort that was put into fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed 190 British Columbians, needs to be duplicated for B.C.’s other health crisis, which has killed at least 5,741 people by overdose since 2016, when the province declared a health emergency.

Image: Dr. Bill MacEwan is the former head of psychiatry at St. Paul’s Hospital. Jason Payne / PNG