Councillor Shelley Carroll

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

May 17th, Back From Berlin

Got back from the Association of Metropolises just in time for the May Council Session.

The trip to Berlin was very worthwhile. From the first day when we checked in and rushed back downstairs to an excellent Roundtable on Megacities and Poverty to the final General Assembly when the Youth Congress reported back on their weeklong struggle to develop a report on an International Perspective on Issues Facing The Megacity, we were challenged.

Once the Planning guidelines around the reconstruction of Berlin were explained, every car or bus trip out to another event was an education in itself. Planning and Architectural standards are on a whole different level.

While there, I took two separate trips out to research Berlin's treatment and prevention system. They have a mobile needle exchange as well as a mobile health care unit van to monitor the and counsel drug users. Some elements of their mobile system may be of use to Toronto as we continue to develop our own comprehensive Drug Strategy. Ironically the Berliners in the Drug Coordinator's office were more interested in hearing from me, how we control abuse of the "Legal Drugs" alcohol and tobacco.

Without any anti-smoking bylaws and no closing time for the sale of liquor, their health system is still over-burdened with the harmful effects of these substances. They see our limited liquor sales and tobacco sales and our ban on indoor smoking as brilliant strokes of Harm Reduction. They struggle still with greater incidence of unemployability or domestic abuse due to alcohol excess.

As Canadians, I think we forget to take a step back and look at our successes and how far we've come.