New in­jec­tion site com­ing to Low­er­town

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Front Page - Kieran de­la­m­ont

Nine­teen days af­ter harm re­duc­tion work­ers opened an un­sanc­tioned pop-up su­per­vised in­jec­tion site in Low­er­town, the city’s pub­lic health agency is tak­ing steps to open an of­fi­cially sanc­tioned in­terim site.

Of­fi­cials from the Sandy Hill Com­mu­nity Health Cen­tre asked Health Canada to amend their ex­emp­tion to al­low for a satel­lite su­per­vised in­jec­tion site at Ot­tawa Pub­lic Health’s fa­cil­i­ties (179 Clarence St.).

Dr. Isra Levy said that once it opens, the site will op­er­ate seven days a week, but the hours of op­er­a­tion have not yet been de­ter­mined. The ini­tial plan is to op­er­ate for the next four months, but that they would be mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion to con­sider ex­tend­ing op­er­a­tions.

While fi­nal sign-off from Health Canada is still pend­ing, Dr. Levy said that they were con­fi­dent that the pieces were all in the right place for the site to op­er­ate.

Ot­tawa Pub­lic Health ex­pects that the site will be op­er­a­tional in the next week, but Dr. Levy said that they would be op­er­at­ing “yes­ter­day, if we could do it.”

“I think it’s a good ini­tia­tive on the part of Ot­tawa Pub­lic Health to bring a more per­ma­nent place where peo­ple can go and get the help they need,” said Mayor Jim Wat­son, who has pre­vi­ously come out against su­per­vised in­jec­tion ser­vices.

He said that he hopes the pop-up site op­er­at­ing in Raphael Brunet Park will close down once OPH’S site opens. “My view is that the pop-up site is not le­gal, it’s not au­tho­rized and my hope is they will co-op­er­ate and rec­og­nize there is a site in the ge­o­graphic area they’re serv­ing.”

Over­dose Pre­ven­tion Ot­tawa vol­un­teer Mar­ilou Gagnon said that she was fully in sup­port of the site’s open­ing, and stressed that it was an op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide more ser­vices for drug users than their team of vol­un­teers can pro­vide. “The need is very much present,” she said. “From Day 1 this site has been about pro­vid­ing a life-sav­ing ser­vice.”

Dr. Levy claimed, on Tues­day, that the site was not a di­rect re­sponse to OPO’S site, but ac­knowl­edged that the site “has been part of the dy­namic, ob­vi­ously.”

Kieran De­la­m­ont/metro

Dr. Isra Levy and Andrew Hen­driks from Ot­tawa Pub­lic Health

metro | Ot­tawa

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