Pubdate: Tue, 26 Dec 2017
Source: Metro (Edmonton, CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Kevin Maimann
Page: 8


Concern that sites will be clustered in the inner city

Just a few years ago, supervised consumption sites seemed like a pipe
dream for public health advocates in Edmonton.

But the opioid crisis, highlighted by alarming rates of fentanyl
overdose deaths, sparked a major shift in public opinion and policy.

In October, Health Canada officially gave the green light to five
sites in Alberta, including four in Edmonton - all of which are
scheduled to be up and running in early 2018.

The project was led by AMSISE (Access to Medically Supervised
Injection Services Edmonton), a coalition of 25 organizations that
applied for the community-based sites at Boyle McCauley Health Centre,
Boyle Community Services, the George Spady Centre.

At the time, the group's chair Shelley Williams called the approval "a
stunning show of community development."

AMSISE held open houses, door-knocked and met with community leagues,
police, business associations and substance users as part of a
community consultation to gauge support for the projects. Their survey
of 1,869 Edmontonians found 81 per cent agreed with integrating
supervised consumption services into inner-city agencies.

Meanwhile, Alberta Health Services also got approval to offer
supervised consumption services to in-patients at the Royal Alexandra
Hospital, which will make it the first acute-care hospital in North
America to provide the service when it opens in the spring.

The sites will offer sterile needles and basic medical care to people
who use them. There will also be social workers on site to help in
finding food and shelter, detox services, and addiction and mental
health treatment.

Not everybody wants the sites, however. Groups like the Chinese
Benevolent Association have been vocal in their opposition to the
facilities, saying they were not properly consulted and they should
not all be clustered in their neighbourhood.

In an effort to address those concerns and leverage the sites for 
maximum effect, the city launched Recover: Edmonton's Urban Wellness 
Plan, a collaborative effort to strengthen the social, physical and 
economic conditions of neighbourhoods.

Iveson said the program aims to find better strategies to route people
into housing and treatment, and away from emergencies rooms and the
Remand Centre if their issues "could be better dealt with elsewhere."

The plan will start in Boyle Street, Central McDougall, Downtown,
McCauley and Queen Mary Park - the areas surrounding the consumption
sites - and branch out to other parts of the city in 2018.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt