Pubdate: Sat, 26 Aug 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Olivia Blackmore
Page: A6


When Erick Laurie found out Friday that a pop-up safe injection site
had been set up in his neighbourhood, he called one of his friends who
uses drugs and, after a little convincing, they walked to Raphael
Brunet Park together.

"You'll have somewhere where you feel safe, you'll feel comfortable. A
friend can bring them (to the site)," said Laurie, who was addicted to
opioids while receiving treatment for back pain about a decade ago.

The launch of the "pop-up" supervised injection site was announced on
Thursday, and on Friday the location was revealed at the Brunet park
near the By Ward Market. The site was open to people who wanted to use
the service it provides for three hours Friday evening.

The unauthorized site was inspired by overdose prevention sites in
tents pitched in Toronto and Vancouver.

Laurie had overheard a woman make a negative comment about the site,
but decided he wouldn't rush to any conclusions.

"I said, 'Let me check this out before I judge it.' It's my community.
I think it's awesome - it's a step in the right direction."

Laurie said he has seen people using drugs while they hide in the
corners of abandoned buildings.

"If somebody overdoses alone in the morning doing their hit, nobody
knows until it's too late."

Organizers and volunteers had tents up by 3 p.m. - the first tent is
used as a greeting area, with snacks and equipment, another tent is
used for safe-injection and a camping tent is used as a space for drug
users to relax, said Catherine Hacksel, one of the volunteers.

"We wanted to make sure (the media) get to visit and we also (wanted
to) build some relationship with the police that we also welcomed to
visit. Public health is here as well," said Marilou Gagnon, an
Overdose Prevention Ottawa volunteer who teaches nursing at the
University of Ottawa and serves as president of the Harm Reduction
Nurses Association. "That was the intention, to do a formal

Police arrived at the location after 3 p.m. and informed organizers
that the pop-up site was a bylaw infraction because the group did not
have a permit, Hacksel said. But the group was not told to leave, she

"If we had to communicate all of these plans with the city and
negotiate things like permits and things like that, we probably
wouldn't have been able to have this as quickly as we did," Hacksel

Ottawa police said that they did notify organizers of a bylaw
infraction and said they will continue to monitor the site from a
public safety perspective.

Organizers said the site will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from
6 p.m. until 9. They will monitor how the community responds before
deciding how long they will continue to operate.
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