Pubdate: Tue, 31 Oct 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Elizabeth Payne
Page: A2


Ottawa's largest permanent supervised injection site could be open in
a Lowertown trailer as soon as this weekend.

The trailer, to be operated by Ottawa Inner City Health and located
outside Shepherds of Good Hope on Murray Street, will be open 24/7 and
serve a population of between 100 and 150 injection drug users, said
Inner City Health executive director Wendy Muckle.

Ontario's Health Minister Eric Hoskins has endorsed the site in a
letter to federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, his office
said Monday.

"Inner City Health has proposed to expand existing community outreach
work to support those most at risk of overdose and connect people with
vital health care supports, including substance use treatment and
counselling," Hoskins said in a statement.

Rideau-Vanier, he noted, has the highest geographical proportion of
people who use drugs in Ottawa "by a large degree." Hoskins noted that
40 residents died in Ottawa in 2016 from opioid overdoses.

"Any loss of life as a result of an opioid overdose is a needless,
preventable tragedy," he said.

The renovated 11-by-44-foot trailer that will become the city's newest
supervised injection site will include eight injection booths, as well
as a lounge area with a television and video games where people can
stay after they have injected, said Muckle.

The "clubhouse model" of a supervised injection site is unusual, said

"Most don't have a recreation area," she said. "We would like them to
hang out for awhile."

Inner City Health is waiting for its formal exemption from Health
Canada. Muckle said Ontario's support was the last piece of the
application for an exemption from federal drug laws that would allow
the site to operate legally. She said she hopes it will come by the
end of the week. The trailer should be ready by mid-week.

Once it opens, the trailer will become the second approved site in

Last month, Ottawa Public Health opened a small supervised injection
site on Clarence Street which is open in the evening and has two
injection booths.

The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre is renovating a space for
another permanent supervised injection site, expected to open by the
end of the year.

Meanwhile, an unsanctioned pop-up injection site located in a
Lowertown park has had 2,868 visits since it opened in August, 67 days

More than 100 people visited the site over the weekend before rainy
and windy weather forced it to close for two nights. Run by
volunteers, it operates without an exemption from Health Canada.

Muckle said there have been discussions between Inner City Health and
the volunteers who run the pop-up site about helping people to
transition to the trailer run by Inner City Health.

Volunteers with Overdose Prevention Ottawa, who run the popup site,
have said they will keep it running until it is no longer needed.

Ottawa's overdose crisis escalated rapidly during 2017, starting with
several high-profile overdoses early in the year.

In August, overdose prevention workers at Inner City Health and
Shepherds assisted with 45 overdoses.

In September, that number increased to 75.

Muckle said there were fewer overdoses in October, largely because of
urgent practices put in place, including the hiring of peer support
workers, frequent bed checks and closer monitoring.

She calls it the "ICU model" of overdose prevention, something that is
difficult to maintain.

"We just have to get everybody through until the trailer

She said the new supervised injection site should make a difference,
but it is not a solution to the crisis.

"It won't be the be-all and the end-all. It is one thing we need to
get into place but it is not the long game."
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