Pubdate: Wed, 03 May 2017
Source: Metro (Edmonton, CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Jeremy Simes
Page: 1


Council votes to approach feds; decision to be made in Ottawa

Edmonton got a step closer to seeing supervised consumption sites in
the city, after city council voted Tuesday to ask the federal
government to allow the proposed sites to open as soon as possible.

Councillors voted 10-1 to send the letter of opinion to Ottawa, and
although the decision is ultimately up to the federal government, the
ruling Liberals have previously indicated they support the services.

Couns. Bev Esslinger and Mike Nickel were absent for the

"To me this is finally recognizing they (Edmonton's vulnerable) need a
health service, and this is an inroad to those health services," said
Coun. Scott McKeen.

A group of medical and community representatives known as the Access
to Medically Supervised Injection Services, or AMSIS, had previously
proposed four sites for the city. If approved, the facilities would be
located in the Boyle McCauley Health Centre, Boyle Street Community
Services, the George Spady Centre, and the Royal Alex for inpatients.

The services aim to reduce overdose deaths and HIV infections by
allowing people to consume deadly street drugs in medically-supervised

Members of AMSIS have also argued that sites would also reduce the
number of used needles on streets.

But some residents have previously expressed concerns over the
services, saying they weren't adequately consulted over the proposed

Coun. Tony Caterina was the lone holdout on council, and said he
wouldn't support the letter to the federal government.

"My concern is the concentration of this and the timing of how to
recommend this without fully understanding the recommendations,"
Caterina said. "I might change my mind, but there isn't enough
evidence for me."

However, city council was ultimately convinced the services are needed
for Edmonton. Mayor Don Iveson will submit the letter on behalf of
council, and AMSIS will now submit their proposed plans to the federal
government for approval. If approved, the sites would be monitored for
two years. Afterward, AMSIS would have to ask for an extension.

"There is evidence around overall benefit to the community," said
Shelley Williams, head of AMSIS. "This is addressing the need for a
service that should have been in the city five years ago."

City staff will also return to council on June 8 to discuss what
Edmonton is doing to tackle the provincial opioid crisis.
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MAP posted-by: Matt