Police chief backs safe-injection sites for Edmonton

Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht says he's in favour of a plan to open four safe-injection sites in the city.

'We, Edmonton, can get it right,' says Rod Knecht after visiting Vancouver safe-injection site

Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht says the city must support communities that will be home to safe-injection sites. (CBC)

Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht says he's in favour of a plan to open four safe-injection sites in the city.

"We, Edmonton, have an opportunity to get it right," Knecht said after visiting a safe-injection site in Vancouver.

"I think we can build a safe-injection site that serves everybody's needs in the broader community."

An advisory committee for medically-supervised injection sites presented a report to city council on Monday, asking councillors for support. 

Coun. Dave Loken said it is something the city should have done long ago.

Couns. Scott McKeen and Bev Esslinger agreed.

At the same meeting, the city's community and public services committee unanimously supported four injection sites in Edmonton — one at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and three others in existing community organizations.

'A way to get it right'

Earlier this week Knecht toured Vancouver's Insite clinic with other representatives of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police. The clinic is the first safe-injection site of its kind in Canada.

Knecht said he's thinking of ways to make a similar injection site safe for Edmonton.

"We don't want a safe injection site that facilitates misery," he said. "We want a safe-injection site that gets these people to a safer place, that gets them off drugs."

Vancouver's Insite clinic in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside was the first safe injection site of its kind in Canada. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Keeping the communities around safe-injection sites safe is just as important, Knecht added. 

"We don't want the community to run down where we've got the graffiti and the rodents and the used needles in the streets.

"If we get the right people together, all having the proper discussion, I think we can get to a good place that meets everybody's needs."

The next step towards safe injection sites in Edmonton is public consultation scheduled for two weeks in early 2017.