Residents of Pleasant Hill have largely responded to AIDS Saskatoon’s plans for a safe consumption site (SCS) with support.Seventy-four per cent of the 263 residents surveyed during the community consultation process said they were in favour of the project.AIDS Saskatoon released the results of the process on Wednesday. The work included open surveys of people who use drugs meeting with community partners, ten open houses and door-to-door canvassing of 2,281 homes in the neighbourhood.
87 per cent of people who use drugs said that they would use a site, and the preferred location was Pleasant Hill.
JONATHAN HAYWARD /
The Canadian Press
The main reasons people gave for their support were creating a space to discard needles and reduce public drug use. Other reasons included reduction of overdoses and deaths and lower potential for HIV and Hepatitis C transmission.Forty-three per cent of survey respondents said they had no concerns about the site, while others said they were worried about a potential increase in violent crime, gang activity and drug trafficking. Among those who expressed opposition, some stated that while they are in favour of a safe consumption site, they want it located elsewhere, like downtown.Jason Mercredi, executive director of AIDS Saskatoon, said the numbers reflect the community’s understanding of the need for a site.He said the organization is committed to continuing the conversation, including with those who are not in support of the project.“We’re not trying to minimize or say their concerns aren’t valid,” Mercredi said. “One thing that we’re trying to do is let them know we have a plan to address the concerns that have come up and we’re going to try and be as transparent as we can. I think it’s important to have all voices at the table.” In 2017, Saskatoon recorded a 58 per cent increase in new HIV diagnoses, the majority of which were attributed to injection drug use. Eighty-seven per cent of drug users surveyed said they would use a safe consumption site, and their preferred location was Pleasant Hill. “We know the site’s needed from a client perspective — clients are asking us for it,” Mercredi said. “So it’s really important that we get this up and running, and the location couldn’t be better in terms of where clients are accessing services.” He added that AIDS Saskatoon will continue to work in and with the community as the project moves firstname.lastname@example.org/acs_shortRelated