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Council votes to support supervised injection sites in the inner city

Edmonton's city council voted 10-1 Tuesday to write a letter of support for four supervised injection sites in the inner core.

The letter is one step toward securing federal exemption for the locations, one in the Royal Alexandra Hospital and three embedded in community health and social service centres.

"You make a community better by making the lives of those living there better," said Coun. Michael Walters, echoing colleagues who said they believe this will benefit those living in McCauley and Central McDougall now.

"I have to think beyond my fear for the citizens, but to help the citizens," said Coun. Ed Gibbons, adding he hopes this will reduce crime and disorder in the neighbourhood.

Coun. Tony Caterina was the only council member who voted against the plan. He said he supports a site in Royal Alexandra Hospital, meant only to serve patients. He doesn't support three sites in the neighbourhoods.

"My concern is the concentration of this," Caterina said, adding it will add to burdens in the neighbourhood.

Councillors Bev Esslinger and Mike Nickel were absent.

Council also voted to ask for the community to be involved in future monitoring plans.

Mayor Don Iveson introduced a motion to be voted on at the next council meeting. That motion calls for a co-ordinated wellness strategy for the inner city. That would push existing agencies in the area to consolidate, working together to get people off the street. It would likely be focused but not limited to one new or renovated building.

"The key thing is ... it can't be about managing the same people the same way," Iveson said, noting this has to be a way into housing and other support.

source : Calgary SUN
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