Pubdate: Mon, 08 May 2017
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Liane Faulder
Page: A4


Protesters representing the Chinese community, as well as residents in
McCauley and Central McDougall, expressed anger Saturday at not being
properly consulted before a decision was made to place three safe
injection sites into their midst.

The proposed public locations are the Boyle McCauley Health Centre on
96 Street and 106 Avenue, Boyle Street Community Services at 101
Street and 105 Avenue, and the George Spady Society at 100 Street and
105A Avenue, all locations that currently offer support for homeless
people. A fourth site at the Royal Alexander Hospital would serve the
hospital's patients.

A crowd of about 200 people gathered in front of city hall,
brandishing bright signs in Chinese and English, and demanded that all
three levels of government supporting the sitestake another look at
plans. A tiny elderly woman in a wheelchair who sported a sign asking
"why weren't we informed" represented a common concern at the protest.

More than half a dozen upset community leaders spoke to the crowd,
including Michael Lee of the Chinese Benevolent Association, who said
the issue "goes deeper than the injection sites."

"It goes to the right people have, to have a say on things that affect
their lives," he said, noting the "so-called public consultation"
process was "really dubious."

Organizers with Access to Medically Supervised Injection Services
Edmonton held small-group information sessions and an online survey,
said protester Wendy Aasen.

"There was no general consultation," said Aasen, a 25-year-resident of

She says she is "insulted" by a consultation process that was not

Her concern is that her neighbourhood will "tip over the edge" and
turn into a ghetto.

"I want them to rethink the model," said Aasen.

Warren Champion, who lives in Central McDougall, said there are many
flaws in the proposed plan. He told the crowd it would make more sense
to put two small, safe injection sites around Whyte Avenue and in the
west end, where opioid use is also a big problem, rather than three in
east downtown.

"We know from published results that a large majority of fentanyl
deaths occurred outside the urban core. Yet, 100 per cent of injection
sites are going to be concentrated there," said Champion, who said
another larger community protest is planned, plus a letter-writing

In a phone interview, Ward 6 Councillor Scott McKeen said "it's
possible" the federal government could change its mind about the
location of the injection sites.

"We know sites are needed in other parts of the city, the west end and
south of the river. That would have helped this community say, OK,
(it's) not just us."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt