Mayor says he won't submit formal request to shut down pop-up drug tent in Lowertown

Mayor Jim Watson says bylaw and police "have to deal" with the unsanctioned supervised injection site in Lowertown because he won't submit a formal request for police to shut it down.

Speaking Wednesday after council, Watson says he hasn't changed his mind about the pop-up site in Raphael Brunet Park but says he is restricted by rules.

"That's a decision of bylaw and the police and we don't direct those agencies," says Watson. "So when they feel it's appropriate, they'll ask the police to intervene."

The mayor's comments conflict with statements made by Police Chief Charles Bordeleau, who told CFRA the force is taking its cues from the City.

"If the City decides to say that this is in contravention of their bylaw, that it's against public use, we will go in there and we will support the City in executing and enforcing their bylaw," said Bordeleau, speaking with Brian Lilley on Beyond the News, Sept. 5.

City officials can't direct police to take specific action and Watson says he believes a "formal request" for action falls in that category.

"That's a direction, so we're not going to go down that route. We believe bylaw and police have to deal with it," says Watson. "I know there are lots of discussions going on in terms of finding an alternative spot that is more appropriate than a park ... and we hope to find an amicable solution sooner than later."

Watson says he has no plans to visit the unsanctioned pop-up, despite the fact that Ottawa Public Health is referring drug users to it.

The Director of bylaw and regulatory services, Roger Chapman, says the City has received 33 complaints related to the site.

Chapman says site organizers and volunteers been given verbal notice and the City continues to monitor the situation.