Supervised injection trailer arrives
Just before 11 a.m. Thursday, John Sangster sat crosslegged on the pavement in a Lowertown parking lot with a needle filled with the opioid hydromorphone pressed into his arm.
A woman in a Porsche SUV pulled into the lot next to Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts looking for a spot as Sangster packed up a black plastic bag with syringes, a lighter and disposable wipes, got to his feet and walked back toward the Shepherds of Good Hope, one block away.
It’s a daily ritual for Sangster — finding a nook along a building or narrow space between two parked cars to get his next fix.
About two hours earlier at Shepherds, a truck delivered a construction trailer that could become Ottawa’s first 24/7 supervised injection site.
If the trailer receives Health Canada’s approval to operate as an injection site, Sangster plans to shoot his drugs in a safe, enclosed space under the supervision of health experts, instead of preparing a needle in the shadow of a deconsecrated church.
“It just makes you feel you’re not alone,” Sangster said. “It gives you a sense of normalcy.”
Shepherds isn’t waiting for Health Canada’s approval before preparing a supervised injection site at what one executive called the “ground zero” of Ottawa’s opioid crisis.
Deirdre Freiheit, president and CEO of Shepherds, said staff are “barely making it by the skin of our teeth” trying to keep clients safe, constantly scouring the block around the King Edward Avenue shelter for anyone who has overdosed.
“Our staff is absolutely exhausted,” Freiheit said.
A supervised injection site