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Edmonton safe consumption sites will clean up Boyle Street: community rep

Edmonton is earmarked to see four facilities offer safe consumption services

A safe injection kit offered in Vancouver.

Metro File

A safe injection kit offered in Vancouver.

Edmonton’s Boyle Street community reps see new inner city safe consumption sites as an opportunity to help clean up the beleaguered area.

“I’m tired of seeing the odd person passed out with a needle in their arm,” said Alf White, president of the Boyle Street Community League. “How long have they been there? It’s scary.”

White’s comments come after Boyle Street held an open house over the weekend discussing new safe consumption sites that are expected to prop up in the inner city within a year.

The push for the services — a harm-reduction model that lets individuals consume deadly drugs like heroin in medically-supervised facilities to reduce overdose deaths — comes as the province continues to tackle Alberta’s opioid crisis.

Edmonton is earmarked to see four facilities offer such programs. They include inner-city agencies Boyle McCauley Health Centre, Boyle Street Community Services and the George Spady Centre, and one for inpatients at the Royal Alex Hospital.

The safe sites would also mean less drug use on streets, which could encourage people to visit or live in Boyle Street as parts of the community undergoes revitalization, according to White.
“Seeing less of this activity on the street would bring a lot of comfort to people,” he said.  “It just makes sense — we’d see health costs go down and police responses down, too.”

According to the group Access to Medically Supervised Injection Services, there were 324 people in Edmonton in 2014 sharing needles and injecting in public spaces.

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