Pubdate: Tue, 07 Nov 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jon Willing
Page: A1


OK comes as city, province spar over unsanctioned tent nearby

A trailer at the Shepherds of Good Hope became Ottawa's third legal
supervised injection site late Monday.

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced in a news release that
the federal government has approved an exemption permitting Inner City
Health Ottawa to operate a sanctioned injection site in the trailer.

It becomes the fifth such site funded by the province. Hoskins said
the province would provide nearly $500,000 in operating funds.

The announcement came as Mayor Jim Watson and the provincial
government quarrelled over a fourth unsanctioned site two blocks away.

The province never called Ottawa City Hall to offer cold-weather
assistance for the Overdose Prevention Ottawa (OPO) injection tent in
Lowertown, according to Watson, even though the province is adamant it
made the offer to the mayor's office.

"We were never formally asked about it. We didn't get any call. The
first we heard of it was in fact from the media," Watson said on
Monday. "When we contacted local MPPs to find out what was happening,
they were trying to get information from the provincial government."
Last Friday, Hoskins said the city government declined the province's
offer to provide a heated tent for OPO to use in Raphael Brunet Park.

There's no clear indication who's right in this bizarre

The province stuck to its version on Monday, saying Watson's office
was asked about assisting the tent operation, but refusing to say who,
exactly, turned down the offer. The premier's office and MPP John
Fraser also spoke with the mayor's office, according to the province.

It's clear, however, that Watson prefers that the upper governments
support sanctioned injection sites, rather than the volunteer-run tent
in Raphael Brunet Park.

Watson on Monday also referenced a situation in Toronto where the
province provided a heated injection tent but advised against using an
open flame inside the tent, rendering the tent useless for drug users
who need to light a flame.

In Ottawa, some councillors were upset the city allegedly decided to
reject provincial assistance for the OPO tent without receiving
council's advice, but they, too, were trying to figure out the truth.

"I'm not thinking of a council solution on this," Kitchissippi Coun.
Jeff Leiper said, adding that there needs to be more discussion
between OPO and the city.

Watson said his priority is to get funding for the "legal, permitted
use" injection sites: the Ottawa Public Health (OPH) clinic on
Clarence Street, the planned site at the Sandy Hill Community Health
Centre and the Ottawa Inner City Health site at the Shepherds of Good

The OPH clinic, Shepherds of Good Hope and Ralph Brunet Park are
within blocks of each other.

"I would say put your money in our legitimate sites," Watson

"In fact, I know my office talked to one official from the provincial
government, they weren't even aware the other site was 90 seconds
away, and it is literally 90 seconds away."

Watson said he toured the Shepherds' supervised injection site on
Sunday. It's in a trailer in the building's parking lot.

"I was very impressed with the professionalism and the work that has
gone in," Watson said. "I'm glad the province has delivered the
funding to open that particular site. I think that's a sensible
location to have it. It's going to be warm, it's going to be
protected, staffed by professionals and right beside the Shepherds of
Good Hope."

The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre also has a federal exemption,
but doesn't know when its supervised injection site will be ready at
its Nelson Street building.

OPH has been running a temporary supervised injection site at its
Clarence Street clinic using Sandy Hill's exemption.

The trailer-based "clubhouse" site at the Shepherds of Good Hope has
eight injectionstations and a post-injection "chill out" area where
drug users can relax, watch Netflix and play PS4 games. Health Canada
inspected it on Monday.

Wendy Muckle, executive director of Ottawa Inner City Health, which
will run the 24/7 injection service, said it cost just under $30,000
to set up the trailer. Operations will cost about $800,000 annually.
The province is funding it.

She said some volunteers with OPO will be trained to work at the
Shepherds' injectionsite, helping drug users transition to the
services inside the trailer. Once the injectiontrailer gets federal
approval, OPO volunteers will decide if it needs to keep operating the
tent at Raphael Brunet Park.

She said "even if there's not a need for service in this community, I
think we can all anticipate that there are other communities which
have an urgent need and I'm not sure whether OPO will turn their
attention to those, but hopefully they will."
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