City could make supervised injection site on Clarence Street permanent

The city's health board wants approval from the federal government to keep the interim supervised injection site in Lowertown open longer than originally planned and possibly make it permanent. 

In a report to be tabled at the board of health meeting next week, staff recommend the medical officer of health apply for an exemption from Health Canada to operate the site at 179 Clarence St. 

The interim site was set up in late September as a response to the growing opioid crisis, using an exemption already approved for the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre at 221 Nelson St. 

The temporary site opened just a few blocks away from an illegal supervised injection site run by the Overdose Prevention Ottawa group, which has seen regular visits from drug users over the last couple months.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) had previously agreed to assess what to do with the interim site after 120 days of operation, but now staff are recommending the health department act sooner. 

The report recommends staff ask for an extension beyond the 120-day operation schedule "to avoid a disruption" in harm reduction services on Clarence Street and secure funding from the province should it be turned into a permanent facility. 

OPH has also submitted a fleet request for a van for mobile overdose prevention services. That also has to be approved by Health Canada and would require funding from the province, the report noted. 

Earlier this month, the Shepherds of Good Hope in the ByWard Market opened a construction trailer in its parking lot to be used as another supervised injection site.  

The board of health will discuss the report on Oct. 30. 

Source: CBC News