Pubdate: Sat, 17 Dec 2016
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2016 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Juris Graney
Page: A10


When Edmonton drug and gang enforcement detective Guy Pilon toured the
Insite supervised injection site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside
several months ago he didn't like what he saw.

He had visited it three years prior and wanted to see the progress of
it and other drug treatment facilities in the city.

"There are users now waiting outside of Insite just waiting to get
in," Pilon said.

"They are shooting up in the street, they are shooting up around the
corner. There are just users everywhere."

Insite, he said, was less about the treatment of drug addictions and
more about allowing people to do it safely.

Two blocks away at another of Vancouver's drug treatment facilities,
Providence Crosstown Clinic, they were taking a different approach for
drug addicts to seek support.

"At that clinic they have nurses, doctors, psychologists and social
workers that assist them and many who have come there have titrated
down their use, they are functioning addicts now instead of spending
18 hours a day trying to do crime to support their habit," he said.

"They are becoming functional members of society."

That's why he and the Edmonton Police Service on Friday called for the
city's proposed supervised injection site to be a lot like the latter,
rather than the former.

Pilon said whatever is established in Edmonton should be more than
just a place where addicts get their fix.

The Royal Alexandra Hospital site has been the only location
identified to date, but there are expected to be four sites in total
for the city. All would exist inside existing centres.

Co-ordinated policing division superintendent David Veitch said any
proposed site should "do more than facilitate the medically supervised
consumption of illegal drugs."

"We believe there is a requirement for support services that are
immediately available to drug addicts, so they can safely manage and
ultimately eliminate their addiction to drugs," Veitch said.

The sites should be a full "wrap around service" to include support
such as "medical assistance, food and shelter, mental health and
addictions counselling."

Police Chief Rod Knecht said in a news release Friday that this was an
"opportunity to get things right."

"A concerted, integrated and sustained effort is required to help drug
users manage their addictions," Knecht said.

"Without such a support structure in place, supervised injection sites
in Edmonton will simply enable their use of illegal drugs, prolong
their misery and further their victimization."

Knecht went on to say that there was a need to consider public safety
in all future discussions.

"Supporters of supervised injection sites speak of reductions in
overdose deaths and other harm reduction, but what impact does the
open drug use in adjacent streets, the filth and offensive graffiti
and squalor proximal to the facilities have on the community?" he asked.
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