Councillor Fleury meets with injection tent volunteers

Volunteers with Overdose Prevention Ottawa, the group running the unsanctioned supervised injection tent in Lowertown, met with Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury on Tuesday morning in an attempt to clear the air.

After the meeting, Fleury told the Citizen his position hasn’t changed. He still wants the tent out of Raphael Brunet Park and relocated somewhere else.

Overdose Prevention Ottawa released a statement saying organizers hope the meeting will result in “a period of collaboration and cooperation.”

Fleury, who’s also a member of the board of health, has resisted visiting the tent as he tries to balance the concerns of neighbours with the health unit’s focus on harm reduction during an opioid crisis.

Ottawa Public Health has opened a temporary supervised injection service at its Clarence Street clinic, but Overdose Prevention Ottawa has indicated it will continue operating its tent.

James Hutt, a spokesman for Overdose Prevention Ottawa, said Fleury agreed to help the group find a new location.

“We’re not particularly attached to the park,” Hutt said, but he underscored the importance of staying in that part of the city.

“We’re looking to see where the need is most right now and right now it’s in Lowertown.”

Hutt said Overdose Prevention Ottawa was “impressed” by Fleury’s willingness to learn about the group’s operations. They are hoping to find a more suitable location before the extended summer weather gives way to fall and winter temperatures.

The two injection sites — the federally sanctioned one run by the health unit and the unsanctioned one run by Overdose Prevention Ottawa — are roughly two blocks from each other.

The tent is open daily between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. The health unit’s service is open daily between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Fleury said he wants Overdose Prevention Ottawa find a new location to set up its injection service, even suggesting the parking lot of Shepherds of Good Hope on King Edward Avenue.

Ottawa Inner City Health already has an application in at Health Canada to establish a supervised injection service at Shepherds of Good Hope.

The Somerset West Community Health Centre has also submitted an application to run a supervised injection site.

The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre has a federal approval to run an injection site, and is completing the necessary renovations to open the site later this fall. The health unit used the Sandy Hill health centre’s federal approval to open the temporary injection service on Clarence Street.

By Jon Willing
Source: Ottawa Citizen