Edmonton city council has voted in support of setting up four supervised injection sites in the inner core.
Council voted 10-1 to have Mayor Don Iveson write a letter asking the federal government to approve it and the province to fund it.
The proposed sites are at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, the Boyle McCauley Health Centre, the George Spady Centre and Boyle Street Community Services.
A public hearing heard opposition to the plan from McCauley and Central McDougall residents.
Iveson says evidence shows such sites reduce crime, infection rates and overdoses.
Elaine Hyshka, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta School of Public Health, says the sites will be monitored.
“It’s just simply a letter of opinion,” Iveson said following the special council meeting Tuesday. “The decision is federal. The funding decision is provincial.”
The next step for city council will be debate on a motion introduced by the mayor, calling for a co-ordinated wellness strategy for the inner city.
“There was a motion for the city to continue to be involved in monitoring the effectiveness of these sites, making sure that the practical experience matches all of the evidence that suggests that they should reduce crime, social disorder, and infection rates and overdoses. So we’ll continue to monitor," Iveson said.
"We’ll continue to be actively involved.”
Hyshka said the Edmonton proposal is different from the Insight program on Vancouver’s Lower East Side that has gained national attention due to problems.
"This is very different than Insight," she said. "This is an embedded model. We’re not proposing to build any new bricks and mortar, no store fronts. All we’re doing is adding one additional service to existing agencies that are already serving this population.”
Although at some point, Iveson sees more co-ordination between the agencies that are involved, as well as the provincial ministries that will have a stake in driving costs down for health care and social disorder.
“We’ve heard the need for that. We have so many different players, from police, to Alberta Health Services, to agencies who all have a piece of this, but there isn’t a coherent strategy and I think that gap needs to be filled. I think the city can help fill it, not single-handedly.”
The Canadian Press