HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Safe Injection Site Supported
Pubdate: Wed, 30 May 2007
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Frank Landry, City Hall Bureau
Bookmark: (Hepatitis)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Safe Injecting Rooms)


47% Of Edmontonians Think They're A Good Idea: Survey

Nearly half of Edmontonians support the idea of  establishing a
safe-injection site for intravenous drug  users in the city, according
to a new survey.

It comes at a time when park rangers are picking up  three times the
number of discarded syringes in the  river valley compared to just a
few years ago --  suggesting the problem is getting worse.

"Addiction is not going to go away," Roy Aldridge, a  recovering
heroin and speed addict, who's been clean  for about a year, told Sun
Media today.

Hepatitis C

The 55-year-old, who contracted Hepatitis C from  intravenous drug
use, said he would be in favour of a  so-called safe injection site,
where users can shoot up  without fear of being arrested, and under
the  supervision of trained staff.

"Drug use has been here since Adam stole the apple from  the Garden of
Eden, that was his addiction," said  Aldridge, who now uses a
needle-exchange service  offered by Streetworks so he can inject his
Hep C  medication safely.

A recent Canada West Foundation survey found 47% of  Edmontonians
think safe injection sites are a good or  very good idea.

The survey polled Canadians in seven major cities --  six in the west,
plus Toronto.

It found support for safe injection sites ranged from a  low of 42% in
Winnipeg to a high of nearly 55% in  Vancouver.

However, when respondents were asked to rank potential  responses to
illegal drug activity, safe injection  sites ranked well below
increased law enforcement and  increased programs for addicts.

Prevents spread of disease

Proponents of safe injection sites have long argued  they help prevent
the spread of disease and overdoses.

Darren Grove, supervisor of Edmonton's park ranger  unit, said while
he doesn't have any hard numbers, he  figures workers are picking up
1,000 to 1,500 discarded  needles in the river valley each year.

The last time the city had hard numbers was in 2005,  when officials
collected 497 needles from park areas,  most of them around homeless

"Absolutely there is a concern," Grove said. "We don't  want to have
someone stumble across them and  accidentally get struck with a needle."

Marliss Taylor, who speaks for Streetworks, said while  the group
isn't pushing for a safe injection site, it  would welcome one. "We're
not hopeful it will happen  here at this time," she conceded, noting
the federal  government appears opposed to the concept.

The country's only official safe injection site is in  Vancouver.
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