OTTAWA – The newest development in the local fight against the growing opioid epidemic has seen plans from Ottawa Public Health to open a supervised injection site on Clarence Street in the ByWard Market.
According to officials at an announcement Tuesday afternoon, there are 120 visits to local emergency rooms each month due to opioid overdoses, with most cases stemming from the Market and neighbourhoods like Lowertown, Sandy Hill, and Carlington.
And while the new announcement comes at a time where tensions are high in Lowertown over the continued work of Overdose Prevention Ottawa at Raphael Brunet Park, officials say the’re simply taking steps to provide help where it’s clearly needed.
“The situation doesn’t seem to be improving, and clearly the peers out there are doing more sometimes than the services are, and so we’re moving in that direction too,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Isra Levy.
Levy said Tuesday the over 500 people that OPO has served within their first 17 days of operation speak to the importance and urgent need for a city run site in the area.
“We wouldn’t be asking them to close their site. We would be very closely situated to where they are, but, from our point of view, this is about the people in that community that we want to serve. And presumably, we would be serving the same people.”
But, he wouldn’t confirm whether the potential closure of OPO could result in this facility becoming permanent.
“My own belief is that Lowertown and Sandy Hill are different communities and that the needs in those two communities are different. But we’ll examine that if we’re successful in getting going.”
OPH has sent in their request to Health Canada through their partnership with the Sandy Hill site to get this interim solution going.
They estimate that it could take as little as two weeks to become operational without needing outside financial support.
The plan is to have the site run for four months, during the times of the day when there is the most need. Exact hours of operation have yet to be determined.