Saskatoon

Longtime Pleasant Hill resident embraces plans for Saskatoon safe injection site

Shane Partridge says a proposed safe injection site will make his neighbourhood a better place.
Shane Partridge believes a safe injection site is a good idea for the neighbourhood of Pleasant Hill. (CBC)

Shane Partridge says a proposed safe injection site will make his neighbourhood a better place.

A longtime resident of Pleasant Hill, Partridge volunteers as the safety coordinator for the neighbourhood's community association.

"I think it's a great idea," Partridge told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "I only see it helping the people who are already in our community."

This week, AIDS Saskatoon announced its plans to open a safe injection site in an old bakery building on 20th Street. The facility would be near health facilities like the Westside Clinic and St. Paul's Hospital.

Partridge said the site will make everyone involved safer.

"I see it as a way to get some of the needles out of the parks and the streets and the alleyways," he said. "I also see it as a way for people who are addicted to IV drugs have a safe place to go to use and not be worried about overdosing and being alone and passing away."

According to the community association, a safe injection site has been a popular idea with many people in Pleasant Hill. During community safety consultations last year, many people brought up a potential site as a priority for the area.

AIDS Saskatoon said the facility would offer clean needles and addiction support for anyone that wanted them. Staff would also be available to make sure no one accidentally overdoses, with the potential to test drugs to make sure they are safe to consume.

The group has pitched an advisory board for the facility that would include police and the community association.

Partridge said the only concern he has is that Pleasant Hill will become stigmatized, but that even that should fade over time.

"Everyone's afraid of the unknown," he said. "This isn't just going to be some drug den in the community that people can go to and use."

Saskatoon police chief Troy Cooper said the site was a polarizing issue but it could help address the HIV and opioid crisis in the city.

AIDS Saskatoon plans to make an application to the federal government to gain an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. If it's successful, it would join 27 other similar sites across the country.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning

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