OTTAWA – Overdose Prevention Ottawa is calling out Mayor Jim Watson and other government officials for being “ignorant” towards the city’s growing opioid crisis.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the group wrote:
“This very inaction and apathy, municipally, provincially, and federally has contributed to a climate where a small minority of residents are able to relentlessly harass our volunteers and our guests while we provide this life-saving service. Despite receiving hundreds of letters of support for our site and a personal invitation to visit our service, Mayor Jim Watson continues to spread misinformation and ignore expert knowledge on the matter. Out of the 25 overdose prevention sites in Canada, no other civic leader, entrusted with the safety and duty of care for citizens, has behaved as recklessly with his own resident’s lives as Mayor Watson. Ignorance and apathy during this crisis are not an option.”
This comes in the wake of Tuesday’s announcement from Ottawa Public Health that they would pursue an interim supervised injection site in the ByWard Market.
“For us, it’s a great victory,” says OPO volunteer Marilou Gagnon, “We’ve been arguing that there’s a need for this service and that people really need access to a safer space.”
Despite that development, Watson maintained his opinion following Wednesday’s City Council meeting that the unsanctioned site has to go.
“The current pop-up site is illegal. It shouldn’t be taking up a park where children play.”
Watson says he hopes the group will close the pop-up site once the new site on Clarence Street opens.
Gagnon told 1310 NEWS the group will stay put until that transition is complete, but wouldn’t confirm what their intentions are after that happens.
OPO served close to 600 people in their first 19 days of operation, which they maintain continues to save drug users’ lives.