Su­per­vised in­jec­tion trailer ar­rives

Ottawa Sun - - NEWS - JON WILL­ING

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

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