Safe injection site proponents set to stage mock clinic to demystify the idea for public

The battle over a proposed safe injection site for Ottawa heated up today with one city councilor saying a Vancouver, INSITE-style solution won't be considered, while a local doctor said the issue is one of health and should not be in the hands of police and politicians.

"People don't really understand what a supervised injection site is," said one of the proponents of the proposal, Dr. Mark Tyndall, chief of infectious diseases at the Ottawa Hospital. With partners including the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites (CSCS), he plans run a mock safe injection site Sept. 30th at 216 Murray St. that he hopes will demystify it.

The Sandy Hill Community Medical Centre, Tyndall, and several partners are behind the proposal and have asked Health Canada for the necessary exemption to federal drug laws. If it were approved, it would be the second such site in Canada.

Tyndall headed up the evaluation team for the Insite project in Vancouver. With the Ottawa Hospital, he rents a research site at 216 Murray. He does not suggest that's necessarily where the Ottawa site should be located.

Rideau-Vanier Ward Coun. Mathieu Fleury called the issue "polarizing," and said the city had been clear in its opposition to considering the idea.

"People might land wherever on this issue, but I hope if it goes forward, that they align with our vision of decentralizing the services from an area," Rideau-Vanier Ward Coun. Mathieu Fleury said. If such a site were approved, he said hopes it is not located in or near the ByWard Market.

"There's a lot of grey around this issue," Councillor Fleury said, noting the group proposing the site has not said how it would fit into the City's decentralization policies and homelessness plan going forward.

"Any other health-related intervention wouldn't go under this kind of scrutiny," Dr. Tyndall said, noting the mayor and police would not interfere in a push to create a facility for men with prostate cancer.

On Health Canada's possible rejection of the proposal, Tyndall was adamant.

"The Supreme Court won't hear this again. They've already ruled on it," he said, adding if the proposal is rejected, "we're in a good position to say, you're over-ruled [by the 2011 Supreme Court ruling]."

Dr. Tyndall hopes that the mock clinic increases public understanding of the role played by safe injection sites.

"I don't plan on visiting the mock clinic," Councellor Fleury said, but he told Metro he has visited Vancouver's Insite.

By Molly Amoli K. Shinhat
Source: Metro News