Safe injection sites ‘an absolute must,’ says reverend after 5 funerals in the past month – Edmonton

As Edmontonians from neighbourhoods that could host safe injection sites prepared to rally against them Saturday, the reverend of an inner-city church watched from the window as three people prepared to shoot up on the playground. 

Rev. James Holland has led Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples on 96th Street at 108th Avenue for 22 years. During that time, he’s befriended a lot of people in the area — including many who live on the streets — where they regularly use drugs. 

A discarded syringe lies on the steps of a side entrance to the sanctuary of Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples. (Roberta Bell/CBC)

“They are members of this community and we’ve got to do our best to protect all members of the community,” Holland said Saturday. “It includes those who are addicted to drugs.”

Holland is in favour of the safe injection site proposed in the McCauley neighbourhood as well as the three others proposed throughout Edmonton, which now have council support as of this week.

The city will write a letter seeking that status at the following locations: Boyle McCauley Health Centre, Boyle Street Community Services and the George Spady Centre. The fourth one, for inpatients only, would be at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. 

To run the sites, the city needs a federal exemption to the Criminal Code, provincial and police support.

‘This is just going to make it worse’

About 300-400 people who felt differently marched from Canada Place to city hall to protest the safe injection sites. Gordon Stamp and his wife, McCauley residents for 13 years, were there.

Stamp said he’s concerned the politicians and social service workers in favour of the sites don’t actually reside there, where people are fighting “tooth and nail” to make it feel safe. 

“Now they’re putting safe injection sites, or as I call them ‘legalized crack houses.’ That’s all they are, they’re legalized crack houses,” Stamp said Saturday. 

Stamp said he doesn’t…

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