Group to host mock supervised injection site

Addicts can’t get off drugs if they’re dead. 

So says a former user offering a peek inside a mock supervised injection site next Monday as part of the push to bring one to Ottawa.

But the city’s police chief has new concerns, citing a lack of a concrete plan or consultation.

Sean LeBlanc, of the Drug Users Advocacy League (DUAL), said the city’s 6,000-plus IV drug users who shoot up prescription drugs or crack need help desperately.

One in 10 has HIV. Six in 10 have Hepatitis C. One dies from an overdose every 10 days.

“We want to make it safer for people until they’re in a place where they can quit,” LeBlanc said. “You can’t stop drugs if you die of an overdose or you’re so sick you don’t even want to.”

DUAL, with its partners, will host an open house at its Murray St. home aimed at “demystifying” supervised consumption sites.

The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre is working on an application for an exemption from drug laws to set up a site ahead of a federal bill that would put up new roadblocks.

It would be the second in Canada after 10-year-old InSite in Vancouver. There are 90 around the world.

The Ottawa Hospital’s Dr. Mark Tyndall, a speaker at Monday’s event, said research proving the benefits — fewer infections and overdoses, more addicts in treatment and no jump in crime — is “old news.” The hurdles are red tape, fear-mongering and politics.

“We owe it to the most marginalized people in our communities to offer them a proven health service,” he said. “The job really isn't to convince everybody in Ottawa that they should support this.”

Among the opponents is Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau.

“What I’m concerned with is how the establishment of the site or any site will affect the community,” Bordeleau said in an interview with CFRA Tuesday, citing neighbours, businesses and schools.

He has yet to hear a proposed site or concrete plan.

“I haven’t seen the results of any meaningful consultation that says that the community wants this,” Bordeleau said.

Chris Grinham, of Safer Ottawa, fears dealers would flock to a “no go zone.” What the addicts he met while picking up thousands of needles in Lowertown really need is more treatment beds.

“They want treatment, they want to get off the streets — not one has told me they want a safe injection site,” Grinham said.

By Megan Gillis
Source: Ottawa Sun