Some residents fume as Montreal’s three supervised injection sites inaugurated

Some residents fume as Montreal’s three supervised injection sites inaugurated

Montreal’s three supervised injection sites were officially inaugurated Monday, but not everyone in one of the areas was thrilled about the new neighbour.

Daniel Marangere fumed as Mayor Denis Coderre, Quebec Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois and federal Liberal MP Joel Lightbound headed for a photo-op at the one site operated by community organization Cactus Montreal.

Marangere and another local resident, Chantal Beauregard, told the politicians and reporters that life has been hell since Cactus Montreal opened a safe injection site on a downtown Montreal street lined by condominiums just one week ago.

“What do you think of that, injecting right in front (of the site),” Marangere said, showing a photo on his phone to Coderre.

Marangere, who wants the newly opened facility to shut down, said it has attracted junkies to the street at all hours and that needles litter the ground in the residential neighbourhood right off busy Ste-Catherine Street.

“There’s no cameras, there’s no security,” Marangere said. “It’s been one week and we’re already fed up.”

The Montreal safe injection sites approved by Health Canada in May include a mobile unit believed to be the only one of its kind in North America.

A fourth Montreal location is slated to open in the fall, but its location near a school has also sparked opposition.

Dr. Richard Masse, Montreal’s public health director, says he understands the ‘not in my backyard’ stand taken by some residents, but says reluctance in other jurisdictions has faded as providing a safe space for addicts means they are no longer on the streets.

“The support for those sites is increasing continuously,” Masse said. “We can understand, it’s only when it’s close to them that they get more sensitive.”

The Montreal sites are modelled after Insite in Vancouver, the first North American city to have a legal, supervised injection site, beginning in 2003.

“What the studies in Vancouver especially have shown is that rather than being a problem, they’re really a solution,” Masse said.

The federal government has given its blessing to additional Vancouver sites as well as locations in Toronto and Surrey, B.C.

Officials estimate Montreal has about 4,000 users who inject drugs and Masse said Montreal figures for those who use the sites will be available in September.

As for Beauregard, she thinks resident complaints will fall on deaf ears.

“They’ve invested millions in this place,” she said. “They’re not going to go anywhere.”

Lightbound said Canada is dealing with an opioid crisis and the number of overdose-related deaths is likely to rise this year from the 2,458 reported in 2016.

While Quebec has been spared the fentanyl crisis hitting other North American cities, Charlebois says injection sites are part of the solution.

Critics argue they encourage drug use, but reports have shown a decline in the number of overdose deaths and transmission of HIV and hepatitis C.

“We don’t have to wait until it (fentanyl) happens, we should be in prevention (mode),” Charlebois said. “We don’t think that we’ll be so special that it won’t come here.”

Coderre said he’s part of a working group of mayors with Toronto and Vancouver that shares data and best practices with regard to the opioid crisis.

“Nobody is not saying it’s not already happening here right now,” he said. “The reality is, are we ready for it? I think those sites … will be helpful, but we have to be vigilant.”

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….……………………………The_Quebec_Book_cover_Promo_small

Would you like to support a project based right here in Quebec?

This book is being co-authored by two people who are passionate about Quebec and everything it has to offer. One of the authors moved to the region some years ago while the other was born and raised in Quebec.

The Québec Book is a unique guide for anyone interested in learning about Quebec culture and the language spoken here. You could be someone visiting Québec, planning to move to Québec, or already living here. Or maybe you’re a native English speaker, a native French speaker, or a speaker of any other language for that matter.

Pre-Order The Québec Book Now and Receive a Bonus!

Categories: News

About Author

Write a Comment

Only registered users can comment.