Pubdate: Sat, 11 Jun 2005
Source: Duncan News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Duncan News Leader
Author: Tom Fletcher
Bookmark: (Safe Injecting Rooms)


Victoria is the second city in B.C. to get in line for the brave new world 
of "safe injection sites," as they are persistently referred to in the 
mainstream media.

If it goes ahead, our quaint old capital will be the second city in Canada 
to embrace this trendy European strategy - or North America for that 
matter, since so far only Vancouver has taken the plunge. Once this 
questionable bit of social engineering spreads to two cities, look for it 
to pop up in other B.C. communities that have a significant hard drug 
problem, which is to say most of them. They're already talking about it in 

The idea of inviting junkies off the street to a nurse-supervised clinical 
environment was nurtured for years in the hothouse of Vancouver city 
politics. Like many debates in our largest city, this one develops in a fog 
of euphemisms and jargon that are calculated to avoid the tough questions.

The term "safe injection site" isn't just a euphemism. It's an outright 
lie. You'll notice that doctors and senior bureaucrats say "supervised 
injection site." They're not foolish enough to call these places safe. The 
heroin or cocaine that is used there is bought from the same street dealers 
who have always provided it, and there are no efforts to test its potency, 
its purity or for that matter its drain cleaner or mouse poison content.

The Orwellian language continues to evolve as Victoria city officials try 
to stickhandle this issue through a series of neighbourhood meetings. 
They're "safe consumption facilities" and "contact points" and they're 
certainly not planned for this neighbourhood. This was just a convenient 
place to hold a public meeting, really.

My first question was, why Victoria? The place has its share of drug 
problems, no doubt, but it hardly swarms with nodded-out junkies and its 
car-theft rate is seldom in the headlines. Well, the city and the Vancouver 
Island Health Authority got a $50,000 grant from Health Canada so now 
they've got to spend it. Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe recently left his city's 
teeming slums to take the obligatory fact-finding tour of Bern, Switzerland 
and the red-light district of Frankfurt, where he was impressed by the 
array of support for addicts. The European tour confirmed local residents 
have noticed less drug activity on the streets, where parks had been taken 
over by drug dealing and shooting up.

Massive expenditure of public funds creates a superficial perception of 
cleaner streets that pays off at the polls. That's great if you're a 
politician. It's not so good if you're a junkie.

MP Randy White, a long-time critic of injection sites, pointed out last 
year that overdose deaths actually went up after InSite opened in 
Vancouver. Billy Weselowski, who runs abstinence-based treatment programs 
in the Lower Mainland, said he hadn't received a single referral from InSite.

InSite officials now say that between March and August of 2004, they made 
262 referrals to addiction counseling and 78 to detox programs. But they 
don't know how many people actually got off drugs, or even if they really 

Here's the big problem with shoot-up sites, and giving away heroin for that 
matter. This approach doesn't help people get off drugs. It helps them keep 
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