Safe-injection sites on Nenshi's radar in advance of federal-provincial opioid strategy

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he expects harm reduction strategies, including safe injection sites, will be part of an upcoming federal-provincial plan to deal with Canada's opioid drug crisis.

He said the Calgary's ability to help is limited to zoning changes and permits for things like safe injection sites.

While he's not a fan of safe-injection sites, Nenshi said they can save lives.

"I find that they almost feel like an admission that we're not able to solve the problem, but that said, my personal feelings aside, the evidence is absolutely clear. Absolutely clear. They save people's lives, and our job today has to be to save people's lives," he said.

Calgary solution

Nenshi said Calgary has to focus on what works in this city. 

"So I'm not interested in a copy and paste of Vancouver here. I'm interested in 2.0, in thinking about harm reduction in terms of both saving people's lives and helping them get better."

In 2016, 149 people died of fentanyl-related overdoses in Calgary, which is 38 per cent higher than Edmonton's death rate. Across the province, 343 people lost their lives to the drug last year. 

Nenshi said he hopes to hear about a new strategy from the other levels of government for fighting opioid addictions in the coming weeks.

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