Ottawa supervised injection site consultations begin

In less than two years addicts in the city of Ottawa could have a safe, clean environment to do drugs.

A public consultation took place Monday at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre about a proposal to open the capital’s first supervised injection site at the community health centre. The intervention program has been applauded by many health care professionals as an effective method to reduce overdoses, while also reducing the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C.

“Supervised injection services have been proven to reduce public injections, to reduce overdose deaths and to reduce behaviours associated with acquiring HIV and Hep C,” said Rob Boyd with the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre.

The first supervised injection site was opened in Vancouver in 2003. The polarizing program allows addicts to inject drugs under the supervision of health care professionals trained to handle emergency situations.

In order to open, staff behind the proposal need to get an exemption from Canada’s drug possession and trafficking laws. That approval, given by the Federal Minister of Health, comes on the recommendation of numerous players including the public, mayor, head of police, public health and other local officials.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson was unavailable for an interview Monday, but his staff wrote in an email that “the Mayor’s position has not changed.”

Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau told CTV Ottawa has concerns with supervised injection sites including the potential for increased crime and the idea of a "no-go site" around the premise where officers are asked not to charge addicts carrying illegal drugs.

"We've always had some serious concerns around this type of facility," he told CTV Ottawa. "But we'd like to see a plan. We haven't seen a plan yet. We'd like to know the location. We don't know the hours of operation," he added.

Boyd hopes his group’s application will be filed in the Fall, with an ideal grand opening sometime in late 2017.

Source: CTV News Ottawa