Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jan 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jon Willing
Page: A3


The chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board doesn't believe it needs
to wade into the injection site debate, agreeing with the mayor that
Ottawa Public Health is the right authority.

While Coun. Eli El-Chantiry has his own reservations about injections
sites, he believes the issue is rightly in the hands of the public
health board.

"Right now it's not an issue for police yet," El-Chantiry said

"We have a public health board. They have the mandate to deal with
that. They have the experts on the panel. I think that's a good place
to have the discussion."

Mayor Jim Watson has written a letter to the Sandy Hill Community
Health Centre saying the public health board has the municipal
jurisdiction over supervised injection sites.

The Sandy Hill health centre is finishing its application to the
federal government to have a supervised injection site.

The health centre requires a letter from the city as part of its
application to the feds. Watson wrote to the health centre on behalf
of the city.

With the public health board voting last June to support supervised
injection sites, there's no need for council to wade into the debate.

El-Chantiry likened the public health board's authority to the police
board's powers.

"Does every decision need to come to council? I would say to you

"There are some decisions that are better handled within the police
board because that's where the people with expertise are," El-Chantiry

The Sandy Hill health centre has also asked the Ottawa Police Service
for a letter in response to the injection-site application.

In a written statement to the Citizen, Chief Charles Bordeleau's
office said the police service expects to provide a letter to the
Sandy Hill health centre by the end of January.

"We understand and support harm-reduction approaches. Supervised
consumption sites should be part of a continuum of care which includes
moving clients through to treatment," the statement says.

"We remain concerned that locations will attract crime and

"As such, any location selected needs to have community support and an
understanding of the realities and issues brought about by having a
Supervised Consumption Site in your neighbourhood. We think that the
selection of a location should be based on the needs of clients and
the community."

Unless there's an operational pressure when a supervised injection
site opens, it's unlikely the issue will come up at the police board,
El-Chantiry said.

"I don't think there's anything for the police to add or to offer," he

Like Mayor Jim Watson, ElChantiry is skeptical of injection sites. The
councillor would also prefer to put emphasis on treatment, prevention
and education programs.

El-Chantiry emphasized his support for the creation of the Dave Smith
Youth Treatment Centre in his West Carleton-March ward.

"I strongly believe any money spent should be spent on prevention and
treatment, instead of providing a site where people can inject
themselves," El-Chantiry said.

On the other hand, the Sandy Hill health centre says a supervised
injection site gives drug users a clean and safe place to do drugs and
provides information through expert health staff.

The injection sites would also reduce the risk of virus transmission
between drug users sharing needles, since clean supplies would be made
available, supporters say.
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