Pubdate: Mon, 09 Feb 2004
Source: Kamloops This Week (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Kamloops This Week
Author: Markus Ermisch


It's an explosive topic, but Mayor Mel Rothenburger said it is time to start
discussing safe-injection site in Kamloops.

"No doubt it's highly controversial," he said. "There's a lot of opposition
to it. But I think people in Kamloops are willing to have a discussion."

That discussion was re-ignited at last weekend's forum on addictions at the
University College of the Cariboo.

Although the debate is bound to be heated, Rothenburger said he would like
to see it continued at the community level.

"There's a wide spectrum of opinions on this," Rothenburger said. "There are
those who see drug addicts as undesirable, and there's a fear that a
safe-injection site could attract people from the Lower Mainland. But if [a
safe-injection site] is judged to have a positive impact on the community,
then, yes, we should go further."

However, a safe-injection site would only be possible in Kamloops if there
is community consensus.

"We can't have a community that's badly divided over this," Rothenburger
said. "But we should make a decision that's not made on ignorance."

He said he has not yet made up his own mind on the issue.

"I'm not a proponent of safe-injection sites," he said. "But I'm a proponent
of examining the advantages and disadvantages."

So far, Vancouver is the only city in British Columbia that has a
safe-injection site for heroin users. It was opened in the Downtown Eastside
in 2003 and costs about $2 million per year to operate.

Several European countries, such as the Netherlands and Germany, have been
operating safe-injection sites for more than a decade.
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