Pubdate: Sun, 18 Jun 2017
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Claire Theobald
Page: A4


Protesters take issue with concentration of proposed sites within
Edmonton's core

Nearly 200 protestors gathered outside of the Alberta Legislature on
Saturday to speak out against a concentration of safe injection sites
in the Boyle, McCauley and Central McDougall neighbourhoods that they
say is part of a larger issue of "systemic ghettoization."

"We know the situation is dire, and we do not minimize the issue, but
Chinatown and the surrounding communities are already saturated with
all shelter beds and over 60 social agencies that contribute to chaos,
disorder and crime because the homeless and vulnerable are drawn to
our communities by these agencies," said Georgina Fiddler, a resident
of McCauley for seven years, addressing the rally.

In May, Edmonton city council voted to write a letter in support of
four supervised injection sites within Edmonton's inner core, three
based in the community and a fourth at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Supervised injection sites allow addicts to consume illegal drugs
under medical supervision.

The proposed community locations include 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, locations that already provide services for
Edmonton's homeless.

Protestors on Saturday argued the decision to concentrate these
services in already marginalized communities is more about politics
than it is about benefiting those in need of services.

"The neighbourhoods that have the voter turnout and money to make or
break their political careers do not want them," said Cris Basualdo,
resident of Alberta Avenue, who called the decision, "racist, it's
classist and it is economic segregation."

"Why are we chosen as the only community that should serve the
vulnerable and desperate? Homelessness and the fentanyl crisis affects
all of Edmonton and all of Alberta," said Fiddler.

Warren Champion, director of the Central McDougall Community League,
said the majority of drug overdoses in the city occur outside the
downtown core, but other communities have been more organized and
vocal in their opposition.

"It's a whole lot politically easier to deal with," Champion

Many ralliers took issue with a perceived lack of community

"We do have a voice in our destiny. We do not want people to dictate
in our community, to make decisions affecting our lives, our security,
our safety and our community health without consultation," said
Michael Lee, chair of the Edmonton Chinese Benevolent

Ratan Lawrence, executive director of the Chinatown and Area Business
Association, said in order to understand how these decisions could
affect a community, the city would need community consultation, impact
assessments and a report on the impact on crime rates.

"There was no such thing done except for a heavy-handed approach,"
Lawrence said.

Though city council has voted in favour of the supervised injection
site plan and the provincial government has pledged $230,000 in grants
to support the initiative, the plan still requires an exemption from
the federal government under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
before the supervised injections sites can open.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt