Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

RENOVATIONS, TRAINING CONTINUE – The Yukon government plans to open the safe consumption site in this building on Sixth Avenue near Cook Street late this month.

Council discusses safe consumption site

With a switch in plans for a Sixth Avenue building owned by the Yukon government, community consultation is of the utmost importance, say members of city council.

By Chuck Tobin on September 8, 2021

With a switch in plans for a Sixth Avenue building owned by the Yukon government, community consultation is of the utmost importance, say members of city council.

The government is planning to use the location, near Cook Street, for a safe consumption site.

But back in April, the government indicated to the city it was planning on using the vacant building at 6189 Sixth Ave. to provide general health care services, council heard at its meeting Tuesday evening.

But in July, the government informed the city it had a change in plans – and was instead opting to use the location for a safe or supervised consumption site.

Pat Ross, the city’s acting director of development services, told council the change in use to a safe consumption site still fit under the zoning for the provision of health care services.

Coun. Samson Hartland told his colleagues it’s a concern to him that the mayor and council learned of the plans for a consumption site at the same time as area residents did.

Hartland said he is not against the safe consumption site but is wondering if area residents were properly informed and consulted.

“I hope residents are fully consulted on a substantial change for that neighbourhood,” he said. “I know mayor and council have received a lot of emails.”

Ross said he has asked the government to keep the city in the loop as the project develops.

The department is getting phone calls that it’s redirecting back to the government, he said.

Ross said the government did hold a couple of public information sessions on Aug. 31.

But he said he was not aware of anything else the government has planned.

Coun. Steve Roddick said he couldn’t imagine locating a safe consumption site in any neighbourhood without a response from neighbours.

At this point, he suggested, it’s not about the location.

The discussion should focus on how it can work, Roddick said.

“I would hope that the Yukon government is having the conversation about how it will work in the neighbourhood,” he told his colleagues on council.

The government issued a press release Aug. 27 describing the supervised consumption site project and inviting residents to attend the Aug. 31 information session.

The site was originally scheduled to open Aug. 31. The opening has been postponed until the end of this month to account for renovations, staff training and to finalize details.

“Supervised consumption sites provide a safer and supportive place for people who use drugs to consume illicit substances in the presence of trained health professionals,” says the press release.

The supervised consumption site is an element of the Confidence and Supply Agreement reached between the Liberal government and the NDP caucus in April.

Establishing a supervised consumption site was part of the NDP’s election platform.

In return for the Confidence and Supply Agreement, the NDP has committed to propping up the minority Liberal government until the end of January 2023.

The supervised consumption site, or safe consumption site, provides a safe atmosphere where drug users can use their drugs in a supervised setting.

Drug users will have to bring their own drugs, as the facility will not be supplying drugs.

It’s commonly accepted that the Yukon is in an opioid crisis.

There have been 44 opioid-related deaths in the territory since 2016, 33 of which included fentanyl. There have been 14 opioid-related deaths so far this year in the Yukon.

Comments (24)

Up 14 Down 2

drum on Sep 13, 2021 at 7:28 pm

The Homeless Shelter on 4th (drunks, people high on drugs, staggering across 4th Avenue) now we are going to have 55 units in the High Country Inn for the same people, plus now we have a safe shoot up site. All downtown. This is really stupid.
We are letting the drunks and addicts take over this town, It is becoming unsafe to walk down the streets without being approached by scary and threatening people. Good Citizens of this town are becoming scared.

Up 9 Down 8

Hippo on Sep 13, 2021 at 4:08 pm

Please describe how a bar differs from a safe consumption site.

I’ll wait.

Up 12 Down 3

Nathan Living on Sep 12, 2021 at 6:57 pm

I think there should be a tough love component to drug addiction programs.

Maybe a mandatory self reflection stint in a coffin overnight?
The magnitude of the harm of drug addiction needs to be reinforced since the person addicted needs to face the fact that they have to find the motivation to help themselves.

Up 17 Down 4

Jim on Sep 12, 2021 at 5:23 pm

@JC, so your comparing Tahkini’s woes to downtown with residential buildings and seniors residences ( aka: monstrosities) to a safe injection site. As far as the jail goes, it’s been there longer than most residents. It was there throughout the years that Tahkini was federal housing and DPW services. I don’t think anyone is suggesting a safe injection site should be in the outskirts (although I’m sure if it was a lot of people would be happy). But could we not put this in the Enabling Center or one of the many existing structures being used for alcohol and drug using clients? We already spent around 15 million on an apartment for people who wish to maintain their right to not give up booze or drugs. Most likely this place has staff already babysitting them that could also look after the odd junkie wanting to get high between 10 am and 7 pm. Or how about the giant replacement for the Sarah Steele building. Have a room or two dedicated to drug use, while right next door is help for anyone wanting to make the change to sobriety. But no, YTG in all its wisdom pushes this to another corner of downtown amongst quite a large residential neighborhood. The bottom line this is a feather in Kate’s cap and I’m sure she was quite insistent on a stand alone structure she could photo opt in front of.

Up 15 Down 3

Bandit on Sep 11, 2021 at 8:50 pm

@Funny Story
Ride on 6th ave. not the sidewalks on 4th if you want to be safe. Most of the bikes I see on the road don't follow traffic rules (which you are obligated to do). And you seemed to have quite a conversation with a Hobo for someone riding a bike. So from me - ride on 6th ave.

Up 21 Down 1

Oya on Sep 11, 2021 at 1:30 pm

@ Jim YG is not starting public consultations. These are information sessions. The deal has already been made. Plans are in place like it or not; they don't actually care what you think. And I agree... if this is going to effective at all, then the workers need to work the late-late-late-early shift. Unbelievable how this went down.

Up 34 Down 1

Jim on Sep 10, 2021 at 11:25 pm

So it’s just been announced that Blood Ties will be in charge of operations for this new site. Hours of operation are expected to be 10 am to 7 pm. Does anyone believe the busy hours for junkies is during the middle of the day? Who is going to save the evening abusers from themselves? If anything it should be 7 pm to 10 am. One has to think this is more about optics to appease Kate and the NDP for their continued support of the Liberals.
For Pat Ross to say there is no difference in zoning between standard medical care and a site that allows use of illegal drugs makes one think they should maybe look at their zoning regulations. For YTG to start public consultations at the end of Aug for a project that has been in the works for awhile is another example of how this government only consults after the fact.

Up 28 Down 10

Funny Story on Sep 10, 2021 at 2:11 pm

So I was biking downtown yesterday. And yes I usually ride on the sidewalk as I don't trust any drivers. Granted I am respectful of people walking on the sidewalk though. Anyways - Across from the Emergency Shelter a clearly intoxicated gentleman jumps out in front of me and almost made me veer into oncoming traffic. I'm like "WTF are you doing?". You're not supposed to be riding on the sidewalk he bellows. I'm like, yeah I know that, it's a safety issue for myself. And BTW are you Bylaw or something? He's like, "I'm King of these streets" I couldn't stop myself from laughing. He then told me to F-OFF. And I'm like, no, you don't tell me to f**k off Mr King of the Streets. He then quickly apologized and said can you please F-OFF and not ride on the sidewalk? I love hobos with manners, lol.

Then he started reaching into his backpack. I'm like, here we go, I'm getting shanked or shot. But nothing uneventful happened and I continued on my way. Ah, Whitehorse, never change, lol.

Up 10 Down 6

JC on Sep 10, 2021 at 1:40 pm

Downtown gets smacked again!?

IT'S DOWNTOWN! You know, where most of the city's services are... jfc.

Also, Takhini is the kicking boy of Whitehorse, make no mistake. They destroyed almost all the greenbelt that isn't contiguous with McIntyre Creek to make way for housing, they put the jail BACK in what is a nominally residential neighborhood, they still haven't given us a roundabout on Mountainview, and they only paved the road by the trailer parks within the last few years... and now we have the 2 new monstrosities along Range that will turn an already dangerous road into a sh*tshow.

Gimme a break.

Up 14 Down 4

Nathan Living on Sep 10, 2021 at 12:33 pm

How about this?
The safe injection site could be setup in a train car and moved occasionally so it's not always in the same location.
Week or 2 near YTG then few weeks near Walmart then near the library, think it's superior than placing it in a residential area.

Up 30 Down 3

downtown residents get whacked again on Sep 9, 2021 at 8:20 pm

The NDP-Liberal Pension Pact Party notified residents of the area that this was going to happen THE DAY IT WAS SUPPOSED TO OPEN. You will notice that it's nowhere near Kate White's duplex in Takhini North.

Downtown is already tottering under the burden of almost every seriously dysfunctional recipient of government programming in Whitehorse, and the NDP and Liberals just keep piling on more. Is anyone keeping count? Privately we have the Chilcoot, Stratford, and Family Hotel. We have the SA office. The High Country Inn will provide 55 new homes for the same clientelle. There is the new building on the waterfront, several town house and apartment buildings run by Yukon Housing, the new places on Wood Street, the Center of Hope, the 'tiny homes'. Kaushee's, Betty's, ... and no doubt many more.

Many of the people living in Yukon Housing, Kaushee's etc. are fine people who need a hand. They also do not deserve to have wall to wall dysfunction surrounding them.

This flop house for people who want to shoot up is another nail in the coffin of downtown Whitehorse. I hope it works out okay, but I have serious doubts. I am quite disgusted by the Liberal sell-out to rescue their pensions. Extremely cynical. They are enacting the policies of the party that got the least votes, and the NDP got the least votes for a very good reason. This 'safe injection site' is one of them. It will be rabidly expensive, and I predict it will do zero to reduce overdose rates. What are the measureables for success? What happens if it is an utter failure? I hope a government with more sense gets in next time and gets rid of it.

Up 28 Down 2

Nathan Living on Sep 9, 2021 at 6:13 pm

Move this site out of a residential area. There has to be a better location.

Up 39 Down 5

Oya on Sep 9, 2021 at 10:00 am

The gov pulled the wool over your eyes, CoW. As this gov does, they led you to believe one thing only to "change it up" just before implementation day.
Thank you, Samson, for some critical thinking. You have my vote for mayor.
Juniper, I think you have it right. The person manning the site will be sitting there twiddling their thumbs as no addict will want to be seen in broad daylight. (Will probably need 2 people sitting there for safety reasons). Might have to offer free coffee or something more with our tax dollars to get people to go there.
The lack of consultation with the surrounding community speaks volumes about the Liberals' desire/need for power. Goes hand-in-hand with the rest of the Liberal sellout to the NDP - all in the name of power.

Up 42 Down 2

Bob Folster on Sep 8, 2021 at 10:20 pm


I won't be able to walk down 2nd, 4th and NOW 6th avenues without being threatened and hassled.
Why does this crap always get put into downtown ?

Up 40 Down 5

Eye Wide Shut on Sep 8, 2021 at 9:18 pm

I m not sure what I have been witnessing downtown. There use to be the usual crew hanging around.. there is now an explosion of people under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

More drugs is not the answer to this issue, how much is this different the original plan of colonialism? Think about it. Giving people drugs is essentially helping them piss their power away.

Trauma is also not a valid excuse for this, I had enough trauma in my life to move myself and children 8000 km away to the Yukon and all the reasons under the sun to be inebriated. I choose to live a sober life so my children have a stable life.

Yup - you have no friends when you choose no drugs or alcohol here in the Yukon. Expect to be alone - but it’s better than putting yourself in a vulnerable state where people take advantage and be subjected to violence or rape. Common story here.

The culture of party hard is the issue at hand. Booze and drugs to celebrate everything, as well as death.
I have witnessed many of my friends destroy themselves and it’s painful to see. Being wasted doesn’t make anything go away. When you're in pain you need to face it head on or you will never grow and evolve.

Up 32 Down 8

bonanzajoe on Sep 8, 2021 at 5:33 pm

My Opinion: I would like to see a mad dash of NDPers leave the Yukon.

Up 11 Down 8

bonanzajoe on Sep 8, 2021 at 5:30 pm

Johnson: Will you be one of the regulars? You used to live near one. What happened, had enough?

Up 23 Down 8

bonanzajoe on Sep 8, 2021 at 5:29 pm

"Supervised consumption sites provide a safer and supportive place for people who use drugs to consume illicit substances in front of trained health professionals". So, will that also protect the safety and security of the citizens who live in and around that neighborhood? Did the perpetrators of this plan consider that one out? If City council didn't know about this fiasco, then who planned and approved it? And by the way, will those of us who have to take heart medication etc., be allowed to do up there?
And finally, I would like to see the credentials of the professionals who will be doing the supervising. Normal health professionals are already over worked. And I'm sure an EMS vehicle will also have to be on sight 24/7 for limo service to the hospital.

Up 30 Down 7

My Opinion on Sep 8, 2021 at 4:46 pm

Article says staff needs training. In What? Teaching people to mainline? How to treat drug addicts so as not to hurt their self esteem? This will be a disaster just like the building on 4th and Black.

Up 58 Down 18

My Opinion on Sep 8, 2021 at 4:41 pm

The NDP wants this to Morph into Drugs being supplied free of charge. Wait till you see the mad rush to the Yukon by all the addicts.

Up 69 Down 17

My Opinion on Sep 8, 2021 at 4:39 pm

So about five times the deaths from Fentanyl as there is from COVID in the same time period. Nobody telling these guys that they have to change their behaviour, unlike unvacc’ed people. No, just the general public has to suck it up and accept them as neighbours. Seems to me the standards are completely backwards.

Up 26 Down 21

Juniper Jackson on Sep 8, 2021 at 3:22 pm

This doesn't put a lot of effort into public consultation, but a ton of justification for such a site. Liberals are going to do what they are going to do anyway. A lot of people want this site. I call it the safe place to die, because i don't want to see bodies in the alleys, porch steps etc. They say they won't supply drugs, but no one is going to go there unless they do. Junkies are going to shoot up or take their drugs with their friends at a dope house, or at home, or at a party. They aren't going to sit in front of strangers. Most junkies don't wave a flag, look at me, i'm a junkie.. they want privacy. But, say, you can get your free crack, heroin, etc. here..they will flock to the place after dark. And me too. I would give a lot for a couple of pain killers!

Up 23 Down 69

Johnson on Sep 8, 2021 at 2:55 pm

I used to live near one, it's no different than any other service provider. It needs to be downtown, it needs to happen, and I for one am glad they are moving forward with this quickly.

I think downtown residents will be happy with the result.

Up 68 Down 18

JSM on Sep 8, 2021 at 2:22 pm

Disgusting that we will allow the Liberal Government to put something like this in town around areas where children may be. Bring your own drugs and party with the other users. Liberals agreeing to this to hold power and appease the NDP is a disgusting act. Can't believe a place like this exists. What's next.

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