Pop-up supervised injection site is coming to Ottawa

Ottawa’s first pop-up supervised injection site will be opening on Friday.

The group Overdose Prevention Ottawa (OPO) will be making the announcement on Thursday morning, but will not be disclosing its location ahead of operations, which are scheduled to begin on Friday.

“We’re going to do exactly what Toronto did and not disclose our location until we set it up,” said Marilou Gagnon, associate professor at the University of Ottawa School of Nursing and volunteer with OPO.

The move is a bold step in the fight against the mounting overdose crisis in Ontario. “The need is there, and if people don’t believe us when we say that, we’ll be able to prove it,” said Gagnon.

The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre recently received approval from Health Canada to open its site, but they are still in the process of renovating their facilities to meet the ministry’s standards.

Critics say the process is still too slow.

“If the government won’t remove politics from their public health approach, then we’ll remove it for them,” said Jordan Westfall, president of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs, in an email.

The move follows the successful opening of a pop-up supervised injection site in Toronto's Moss Park, where last weekend the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance set up a tent where drugs could be used safely and under the supervision of harm reduction workers.

The organizers have said they have individuals in charge of liaising with police, but that it is not best practice to contact them ahead of opening the site.

In addition, next week organizers will be releasing a guide to help other organizations to do the same—a sort of “start-up guide” for pop-up supervised injection sites.

“It’s showing people how easy it is to do,” said Gagnon. “Because [people have] a lot of questions about how to do it.”

By Kieran Delamont
Source: Metro News