'We're working on solutions': Ottawa Councillor vows plan will be unveiled on safe-injection site

It’s an issue that’s divided a community.

Front-line workers and neighbours are expected to go head to head at a community meeting Monday evening.

“Things are getting ugly,” says Lowertown resident Pamela Simper. Simper lives across the street from the city-owned Raphael-Brunet Park, and says a pop-up injection site means she can’t enjoy the park like she once did.

“I’m not bringing my dog into this park when they’re there,” Simper says referring to drug-users in the park every evening between 6-9pm at the safe-injection site.

“I have no issue with what they are trying to do to help people that have addiction issues,” says Simper, “but not in a public park, in such close proximity to the community centre.”

Organizers of the site are not apologizing, “a block away from her people are overdosing, so sorry not sorry,” says Overdose Prevention Ottawa volunteer Catherine Hacksel.

“In 17 days that we’ve been operating we’ve been supervising people consuming their drugs over 500 times so obviously the need is clear,” adds Hacksel.

While Simper may not approve of the site, Hacksel says she’s in the minority. “It’s been two weeks and this is just people walking by,” says Hacksel holding up a stack of ‘letters of support’.

Lowertown Councillor Mathieu Fleury understands the complexity of the issue, “it is a divisive issue in the community.”

Fleury says he doesn’t want the pop-up in the park, but says it’s more complex than just geography.

“We’re working on solutions and we’re hopeful that we can announce something lather this week or the week after that.”

Fleury won’t divulge the details of the announcement.

Meantime, Hacksel says they can’t wait for government action, “especially to get the message across to the city, they’ve been slow about this whole process. I mean the mayor is still so ignorant on the whole issue it’s really tragic,” says Hacksel, “hopefully the tide is turning and these acts of civil disobedience hopefully make some of these laws change.”

Simper just wants her park back, “I want the city to take a stand and recognize that this group of people is breaking criminal laws as well as city bylaws and they need to be moved out of this park.”