There are strong arguments against allowing a pop-up injection site in a park near the ByWard Market. The site hasn’t been authorized by any level of government and neighbourhood residents haven’t been consulted. It’s fair to ask why an unsanctioned drug injection service is left alone when a children’s lemonade stand by the Rideau Canal and a front-yard hockey rink that crosses a few feet onto city property are shut down almost immediately.
But the circumstances are very relevant. The opioid crisis is an emergency and when people are dying, drastic and unusual steps are sometimes warranted. Instead of waiting weeks for an approved injection site to make its way through various levels of process, Overdose Prevention Ottawa erred on the side of action. They may have broken some rules to do so, but they may also have saved some lives.
This is more than just an injection site. It’s a message to all levels of government: you need to respond to this crisis and you need to do so quickly. When the system comes up short we shouldn’t condemn the individuals who take action, even if they haven’t followed every protocol.