Publication Year

Back Alley

From: Fighting For Space


By 1996, the fight for government-funded harm-reduction services was just beginning. Residents of the Downtown Eastside had to fight for a simple recognition of their existence. With overdose deaths firmly in the triple digits, calls began to grow for the declaration of an official public-health emergency. It would take a political street fight to make it happen. Ann Livingston, alongside Melissa Eror and William Kay, opened "Back Alley", and word went out that heroin users could inject drugs there without having to fear they would die of an overdose alone on the street. Vancouver had its first supervised-injection site. This chapter talks about the rise and inevitable fall of Back Alley.


Travis Lupick

Travis Lupick is an award-winning journalist based in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. He has more than a decade's experience working as a staff reporter for the Georgia Straight newspaper and has also written about drug addiction, harm reduction, and mental health for the Toronto Star, the Walrus, and Al Jazeera English, among other outlets. For his reporting on Canada's opioid crisis, Lupick received the Canadian Association of Journalists' Don McGillivray Award for best overall investigative report of 2016 and two 2017 Jack Webster awards for excellence in B.C. journalism. He has also worked as a journalist in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Bhutan, Peru, and Honduras.