Pubdate: Sun, 27 Aug 2017
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Alison Mah
Page: 5


Sandy Hill centre lot offered to supervised-injection group

The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre has temporarily offered its
parking lot to an unsanctioned "popup" group as the centre tries to
move up the opening date of its own federally approved supervised
injection site.

Pop-up tents were set up by Overdose Prevention Ottawa (OPO) in
Raphael Brunet Park near the ByWard Market on Friday, with organizers
calling it an emergency response to the rising number of overdoses in

Lisa Wright, a spokeswoman for Overdose Prevention Ottawa, said the
organization would stick with its current plan for now. But Wright
said it would consult its members next week as to whether they wanted
to move to the new location at the community centre.

The Sandy Hill centre is one of several sanctioned supervised
injection sites the federal Liberals have approved across Canada.
David Gibson said his clinic's site had been due to open in late
October or early November, although he is now working with Health
Canada to get the site open within the next two weeks.

The unauthorized injection site run by OPO, across the street from 310
St. Patrick St., was open to anyone who wanted to use the service for
three hours Friday evening.

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

Organizers tweeted Friday night that they saw 11 clients and had
"countless more relationships built with the community" on their first

The site was set to be open again Saturday and Sunday, from 6 p.m.
until 9 p.m. OPO said they would monitor community response before
deciding how long to continue operating.

"Originally I did have concerns," Gibson said Saturday of the
unsanctioned site. "Nobody knew who they were, what they were doing,
but having seen what supplies they have and how they're set up and
understanding better what they're doing, some of those concerns are
alleviated. What we would like to do is extend an offer to have them
work with us ... as a sanctioned site, I just wanted to offer them
that opportunity."

"We want to do the same thing, which is to ensure people have a safe
place to inject and also to save lives."

Ottawa Public Health has been in touch with OPO to encourage them to
work with the Sandy Hill centre, said Anthony Di Monte, the city's
general manager of emergency and protective services.

"We are hoping that together a collaborative solution can be

Unlike a full health clinic, the OPO site has volunteer health workers
only to monitor drug users who inject there and respond to overdoses
with naloxone, a drug that can reverse them.

- - with files from Olivia Blackmore and Jon Willing
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