Pubdate: Thu, 31 Aug 2017
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Authors: Tyler Dawson and Jon Willing
Page: 4


Mayor Jim Watson is more concerned about votes and public reaction
than drug-use management in his criticism of a pop-up supervised
injection site in a Lowertown park, says one of the site's organizers.
"Well, he's a politician; what can I say?" said Rick Sproule, who's
with Overdose Prevention Ottawa. "He's concerned about votes, that's
what he's concerned about. He's not a healthcare professional, he has
no expertise in the field whatsoever."

On Tuesday, Watson said that injection-site organizers, while well
intentioned, weren't being fair to the community and had "taken over"
the park.

Watson wouldn't say if the city would close down the site, open since
Friday afternoon in Raphael Brunet Park, at the intersection of St.
Patrick and Cumberland streets.

As of Tuesday night, it has been used 88 times, according to
organizers, who said there have been no overdoses so far.

David Gibson, the executive director of the Sandy Hill Community
Health Centre, which is set to open a government-approved site, had
initially expressed concerns over the unsanctioned injection tent.

The organization later offered up its parking lot to the pop-up and
Watson has said the two groups should collaborate.

"We're kind of frustrated that (Sandy Hill is) not doing what we've
done, taking the courage to just go ahead and do it. We've got our
necks out on the line. They're doing it the law-and-order way, well,
OK, but both approaches need to be focused on," Sproule said, adding
they're considering the collaboration.

Melanie Stafford, who's coordinating naloxone and liaising with the
community, said the group received about 300 naloxone kits (which can
help arrest an opioid overdose) after announcing plans for the site
last Thursday. She estimates that 150 kits have been distributed so
far, and said the pop-up has been working out logistics, from
cigarette butt cans to lighting to storage and bathrooms.

"We're organizing from a place of grief. And we hold each other, we
hold each other's hands," Stafford said. "The grief feels
insurmountable, everyone feels surrounded by death. It's a very rough

Rob Boyd, the director of the Oasis program at the health centre,
visited the pop-up on Tuesday night, and is impressed with the
operation, and the number of people it has helped.

"If I had those numbers in the first days I was open, I would be
thrilled," Boyd said. "I think they have done a remarkable job putting
this together in short order."

The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, meanwhile, is considering
opening an interim supervised injection site, at least until its full
operation is up and running.

Boyd said he spoke with Health Canada on Wednesday about the
possibility. It would be a stopgap until the full site, which was
granted an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act by
the federal government in July, is open.
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