Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

A NEW PURPOSE – The safe-house will be located in this building.

Downtown site chosen for drug safe-house

The Yukon government is moving on its promise to the NDP to build a safe-house for drug users. The location will be Sixth Avenue at Cook Street.

By Whitehorse Star on July 21, 2021

The Yukon government is moving on its promise to the NDP to build a safe-house for drug users. The location will be Sixth Avenue at Cook Street.

“Plans for Yukon’s first supervised consumption site are underway,” the government said in a statement this morning.

“The facility will be located at 6189 Sixth Avenue in Whitehorse, a central, accessible location that will meet the needs of clients.

“The existing government-owned building is being renovated to accommodate the requirements of a supervised consumption site.”

“We have lost far too many Yukoners as a result of drug overdoses,” said Health and Social Services Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee.

“A supervised consumption site builds on our government’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis and support Yukoners through a harm reduction approach.

“As we work to open this site, we will be engaging in conversations with local residents, businesses, First Nations and other partners in the community to share information about the value of this important space.”

The decision to proceed with the site was an important part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement struck in late April between the Liberal government and the NDP to support the new minority government.

However, former health minister Pauline Frost had announced the government’s plan to proceed with a safe-house in late 2020.

“I’m so grateful for the work that community organizers like Blood Ties are doing to advance harm reduction in Yukon,” said Annie Blake, the NDP MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin.

“This work is what made it possible to announce a safer consumption site today.

“Folks who are struggling most will have a safe and accessible space right downtown – this will save lives.”

The statement went on to state “supervised consumption sites provide a safe and supportive place for people who use drugs to consume illicit substances in the presence of trained health professionals.

“Like the rest of Canada, the Yukon is experiencing an opioid crisis and continues to see an increase in overdose deaths. Supervised consumption sites help reduce overdose deaths and increase the number of clients accessing addiction treatment services.”

The government is working to partner with the Blood Ties Four Directions Centre on the operational management and programing at the new site.

Comments (57)

Up 30 Down 1

Good Idea - Bad Location on Jul 26, 2021 at 10:08 am

Whoever thinks this is a good idea, I invite you to look at larger cities and see what happens in and around these places. Typically they are located in commercial business areas and the businesses suffer break-in's, vandalisms, etc. This location is a bad idea, the residents within a two block radius of this location should be up in arms about this decision as it will affect them negatively.

Full disclosure, I am not against these types of facilities, they save lives as there are people to help in case of OD's, etc. But there really needs to be a consultation with residents prior to putting this type of building and the people it will attract into a residential neighborhood.

Up 26 Down 1

JustSayin' on Jul 26, 2021 at 9:08 am

What irritates me the most, is there was no engagement process. These so called leaders are supposed to engage with the community to help the community be better.

Up 11 Down 0

Yukoner87 on Jul 26, 2021 at 8:12 am

@drum the answer to your question is, unfortunately, YES. And it will only get worse.

Up 20 Down 8

Nathan Living on Jul 25, 2021 at 7:41 pm

I have given this some thought and think they should buy out Duffys and Alpine Bakery and close that section of the street to vehicle traffic.

It's best to have the entire area dedicated to people in need of government help. The Centre of Hope and safe drug house and even a liquor store should be there.

Up 22 Down 2

Sandy on Jul 25, 2021 at 7:07 pm

Is it possible to transfer some of these clients to Vancouver's lower east side? They already have all these client facilities in place so they can basically walk in to a program. They could be chaperoned down and set up with some seed money and take advantage of facilities and programs in place.
As a YP member I would like to submit this as a win-win solution.

Up 11 Down 1

John on Jul 25, 2021 at 3:49 pm

@ NGO
You are right; BUT, be sure that the government will be paying for it. Read Al's comment on that one (24 July @ 1136).

Perhaps we should be directing these funds to a failing health care system. This government has their priorities half-assed backwards.

Up 27 Down 4

Wilf Carter on Jul 25, 2021 at 8:48 am

How about free drugs for all people who need health care. I spent over $9,000 of my own money years ago to pay for health care.

Up 17 Down 1

Max Mack on Jul 25, 2021 at 1:37 am

@Russell

The curtain is now being lifted on the so-called "Portuguese success". All is not as it has been touted.
For example, refer to https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282937241_Drugs_The_Portuguese_fallacy_and_the_absurd_medicalization_of_Europe

Up 35 Down 9

drum on Jul 24, 2021 at 6:19 pm

Two weeks ago a friend of mine fainted in a restaurant. We called 911 and were told that all the ambulances were busy.
A wonderful Paramedic in a SUV did a wonderful job to help us. My question is do people who have not paid any taxes in this country and are on welfare get more care than people who have worked all their lives, paid taxes and continue to support this country get less help especially in the Yukon?.

Up 15 Down 0

NGO is the way it will go… on Jul 24, 2021 at 3:36 pm

Don’t worry John. It is only temporary. It will be devolved to an NGO in due time.

Up 49 Down 5

Al on Jul 24, 2021 at 11:36 am

So here we are. The Yukon is unable to provide timely and adequate health care to Yukoners. This is not a statement, it is a fact ! Yet we continuously see money being diverted from keeping this basic necessity from us. Wait times for surgeries are still anywhere up to 18 months (yup that is a 1 1/2 years) - I know because I am one of those lucky individuals forced to wait. Why ? Well I am told by my physician that there is a lack of access to operating theatres due to cost restrictions. As well there has been a lack of physician surgical care here in the Yukon due to the inability of Health Services in not seeking qualified personnel, either at the hospital or by referring patients outside. Don't let the government tell you that they are doing their best and that they care - they are and do not.

We do have loads of money for programs such as this though. I expect like everything else that to do a re-renovate to the current facility (I say "re" because this will be the 3rd redo to accommodate "a new program") will cost 1/2 million easily. Then there is the cost of "new" staff (of course to be hired from outside managing the place 24/7 for "drop-ins"). Even if they are not employed directly by YTG be sure that staffing will be paid by the taxpayers through a contract annually to whatever group takes this on. So we can add another half million plus for salaries, then there is the ongoing O&M - well you get the drift.

All the while health needs in the Yukon are not being met. We are being told you have to wait and wait. Too bad if it is inconvenient for you Joe or Mary public.

Up 48 Down 4

yukoner on Jul 24, 2021 at 9:48 am

But but but...Sandy had to because Kate said so. Yukoners got sold out big time, Lib voters take note please.

Up 47 Down 6

Bill on Jul 23, 2021 at 3:55 pm

@bonzanajoe
"And we have to stop electing idiots to government." You are quite correct - the problem is it will continue well into the future because what we find is only the 'idiots' run for office. So what choice does one have ?

Up 45 Down 9

Juniper Jackson on Jul 23, 2021 at 3:50 pm

Very few of the people who can afford to buy heroin or crack, or whatever else you 'shoot up' wouldn't be caught dead, (pun intended) in a 'safe house'. Junkies don't want someone to watch them while they shoot up or puke up or pass out. BC had to hand out free drugs to get them into a safe house. Who are we talking about anyone? That street guy collecting cans for recycle money? Nope.. he'll do it if he can, but mostly sticks to booze.. the teenagers? Yeah..like they'll show up there. The young, both working weekend junkies? Yep.. they can afford it. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/parents-dead-calgary-home-children-drug-overdose-1.3883934 That couple also isn't going to use the drug den.
Drug parties? I heard of one last year, 7 or 8 people in a real nice home, drugs all over the table and an 18 mo. old running around. Yeah.. They also are not going to be at the den. This is a big building. THE Yukon government is going to have to give out free drugs to get anyone into it.

I think it's a total waste of money. If they have that to spend, (and they don't) I'd rather see it go into youth programs, young people education. Expand just say no programs. AND, educate parents. Don't do dope with your kids. Jeez.

Up 51 Down 8

Klondike Cornelius on Jul 23, 2021 at 3:08 pm

The Salvation army as well as this new waste of money drug haven should be relocated somewhere in the woods away from the public view.

Up 26 Down 38

Russell on Jul 23, 2021 at 12:54 pm

Look at Portugal
They had highest substance abuse and death rate in all of Europe.
Over 20 years ago they decriminalized drugs and opened centres run by health and social centres like this across the entire country.
They managed to have the majority of users become functional in society due to sharing the kind of attitudes the current Yukon Gov't now has.

Portugal now has one of the lowest addition rates in Europe. In fact many countries around the world are now studying how Portugal changed and improved their society with respect to drug use.

Up 64 Down 13

John on Jul 23, 2021 at 11:30 am

Ah yes, another opportunity to piss more money away at another useless endeavour. Hire more staff and coddle those that are too inept at looking after themselves.

Up 55 Down 12

Al on Jul 23, 2021 at 11:26 am

I was brought up with a strict code of ethics. Something I am proud of and have shared these values with ours over the decades.

The most important one is that "you, and only you, are accountable for the choices you make in life". It doesn't mean that society is responsible for you, nor does it mean that the government should come to my rescue because of my inability to get my act together. However, today what we see is an erosion of self responsibility and the government nurturing people from cradle to grave at the expense of the few.

So, this facility is being created to reduce deaths (so say the 'experts') and put people on the straight and narrow. Hm, I think not. What I believe the government is doing is the opposite by actually encouraging people who take drugs and substances as such to continue down the road knowing they will have a soft pillow to land on.

Up 14 Down 33

Nathan Living on Jul 22, 2021 at 9:46 pm

I think the safe drug house should be located closer to the Centre of Hope.

Maybe the government could buy Alpine Bakery and the bakery can continue to be operated to provide food and baking training for the drug users.

Up 58 Down 6

drum on Jul 22, 2021 at 9:45 pm

We are continuing to turn the downtown part of Whitehorse into a flophouse, Great for visitors to see and residents are getting sick and tired of drunks crossing the street from the shelter without even looking. Move it to a a part of town where we do not have to look at it everyday and try to avoid drunks,

Up 41 Down 7

Vern Sclimbesser on Jul 22, 2021 at 8:37 pm

Thanks to everyone, this is a good discussion. One of the better ones and I have learned a lot.
I don't want to belittle any of the good comments, but, I have a fear that, IF, a certain racial group forms the majority of users of the facility, and I think that can be anticipated, My point is this is going to have long range consequences. A few deaths will be delayed, some prolonged I hope, but long term, this is no solution.

Up 73 Down 4

Dena on Jul 22, 2021 at 4:14 pm

Why is the government spreading the problem through the downtown? Would it not have made more sense to put the safe site in the new shelter building where meals are served? The problem is already there, with staff ALREADY there.

As a nearby resident, we have already had thefts from proximity to the Chilkoot Inn, that houses SA clients.

Up 18 Down 4

bonanzajoe on Jul 22, 2021 at 3:46 pm

Cheryl: Yes, and yes.

Up 45 Down 8

bonanzajoe on Jul 22, 2021 at 3:45 pm

Wondering: It's not a "Centre or Hope", it's just a politically correct term for a centre of despair.

Up 53 Down 4

bonanzajoe on Jul 22, 2021 at 3:43 pm

Nathan Living: And we have to stop electing idiots to government.

Up 52 Down 4

bonanzajoe on Jul 22, 2021 at 3:41 pm

You can be sure they will have a special parking spot for the ambulance close to the front or back door.

Up 56 Down 5

bonanzajoe on Jul 22, 2021 at 3:39 pm

Anie, we need to start electing intelligent, moral, and responsible politicians.

Up 60 Down 6

Bandit on Jul 22, 2021 at 2:19 pm

I am all for this with a few changes:
No, you cannot bring drugs in with you, when you arrive all of your illicit drugs and paraphernalia are incinerated, you sign a waiver for a (You can't leave) treatment plan 60-90 days? The staff will be there to keep you alive while you Puke, Sweat, Shake, Sh#t and have nightmares etc. They will only administer drugs to help you through the Detoxification process. Once you are healthy enough to eat a solid meal and keep it down then the process starts to help you kick the habit, that may take a while longer. Let's try a bit of "Tough Love" instead of funding a never-ending, revolving door Shi#hole enabling center. And Yes I really feel for the Local residents as I have lived here since the 70s and back then it was a great place to call home... not so much anymore.

Up 41 Down 3

Thomas Brewer on Jul 22, 2021 at 2:05 pm

@BnR
"You’re [sic] taxpayer dollars are paying for EMS services and medical care for these individuals regardless, so reducing overdoses and related fatalities by any amount is a win."

@Outsider
"Is it really wise to be building a facility designed to hand out drugs within 250m of an elementary school?"

This government doesn't care about silly concerns like that... they have the Enabling Shelter and Social Services offices next to WES, the all-access wet shelter across the street from Wood Street School.
TBH, fatalities are far cheaper.

@Wondering
"Where is the "Centre of Hope"?" That was the name of the Whitehorse 'Emergency'/Enabling Centre when the Salvation Army operated it.

Up 12 Down 53

Catman on Jul 22, 2021 at 2:00 pm

Most drug houses these days are frustratingly hard to locate for your average joe, almost like they're being kept a secret.

I'm very glad that we'll have a community drug house that is conveniently located and accessible.

Up 24 Down 57

RandyT on Jul 22, 2021 at 11:45 am

The comments on here are appalling. Nobody is 'giving out free drugs' at this site - although a safe supply of drugs is also needed.

Our downtown is already full of people using drugs in alleys, parks and backyards, leaving needles and equipment in your yard. We are already paying much more than the cost of this site in 911 calls for OD's and emergency room beds. Get your heads out of your rears and realize how a) how many lives this will save and b) this will help 'clean up' downtown in your NIMBY eyes rather than hurt it.

.

Up 47 Down 7

TMYK on Jul 22, 2021 at 11:32 am

@ Wondering its the homeless shelter on 4th Avenue that the Liberals drove the Salvation Army out of and tripled the cost of running it and got rid of any rules.
@ BnR They already hand out booze at the "Center of Hope" why not just add drugs if that's their plan.

Up 12 Down 62

Dogman on Jul 22, 2021 at 10:43 am

There are too many dangerous drug houses out there. I for one welcome a safe drug house. It'll be a nice change of pace.

Up 65 Down 9

yukongirl on Jul 22, 2021 at 10:42 am

All we need is a big box store on the Alaska Highway and people will never go downtown again.

Up 63 Down 6

Groucho d'North on Jul 22, 2021 at 10:17 am

So Sandy & crew get to test drive a treatment option, but because it was a requirement with the NDP for their support, they can avoid criticisim if it fails.
Is anybody responsible for anything with this administration?

Up 74 Down 8

Oya on Jul 22, 2021 at 9:38 am

Sure happy I don't live anywhere near there! What with the shelter close by, the tiny houses for the "hard to house" close by, and now a free drug dispensing site all within a few blocks of each other, this area is soon to be (if not already) a ghetto.
I'd be so angry if I owned property in that area.
Anie has it exactly right and we should be listening HARD to Richard Smith. Dumbest move ever. Instead of fixing the substance abuse issues so visible on our streets, YG encourages and enables substance abuse. If you think we have zombies now.... SMFH

Up 61 Down 6

Crunch on Jul 22, 2021 at 9:34 am

@Anie
You are correct and as I have stated before watch the strip development along the Alaska Hwy. This is how they will keep the tourists away from the druggies. The panhandling in Whitehorse has hit a new level with people staggering around day and night. It's time to clean house. Good Lord!!

Up 78 Down 6

David Griffiths on Jul 22, 2021 at 9:33 am

I totally agree with Anie's comments. What kind of moronic thinking went into deciding it was fine to locate a drug injection site in the middle of a residential area. What an asinine decision.

Up 71 Down 7

Joanne on Jul 22, 2021 at 9:24 am

So did the government canvas local residents for their opinion as to whether they support having this outlet beside their homes ? No-one asked me. I guess those that have to live beside this facility don't matter. This is not a case of NIMBY but rather "our safety" along with having our homes devalued. Who in their right mind would buy a home with this next door ? I could tell you where to stick it but it likely won't fit...

Up 73 Down 6

Outsider on Jul 22, 2021 at 8:23 am

Is it really wise to be building a facility designed to hand out drugs within 250m of an elementary school?

Up 62 Down 8

Rick S on Jul 22, 2021 at 8:16 am

Not long before vandalism, theft and assault is decriminalized.

Up 67 Down 13

iBrian on Jul 22, 2021 at 8:00 am

I have yet to see this type of program be successful in any other part of the world.
It’s unfortunate, in the 13 years I have lived in the Yukon I have seen a once beautiful place, now turning into Mini Ottawa and Vancouver.
This reminds me of 1970’s Russia. Where a majority of people work for the state. Where state managers and supervisors go south to warm places in the winter. Where things are good for you if you heed your independent thought.
This is more then just a “safe place to get high” think opium dens, crack house, meth trailer. Only difference is bottom of the barrel certified health care employees watch people throw their lives down the drain.
Unfortunately the only way to deal with this is to stop the abuse; not encourage the abuse.
That’s just my .02 cents.
Which, as a person who was fairly dependent on opioids 20 years ago, I know from personal experience.

Up 31 Down 65

BnR on Jul 22, 2021 at 7:52 am

The usual knee-jerk reactionary comments based on fear and misinformation.
There is overwhelming evidence that these sites do work and that objections to them is illogical. You’re taxpayer dollars are paying for EMS services and medical care for these individuals regardless, so reducing overdoses and related fatalities by any amount is a win.
As far as safe sites encouraging youth to get into these types of drugs, are you serious? If so, what are you smoking?
Location? Where would you put it? No, really. Where? The users are always based out of downtown cores, putting it somewhere that’s not accessible is ludicrous.
Want to stamp out drugs? Better start investing serious time and money in the underlying issues such as poverty and education, but that never plays well with the arm waving crowd.

Up 70 Down 10

Matthew on Jul 22, 2021 at 6:17 am

Why is it that lowest levels of society get brand new everything?

Up 74 Down 5

Cheryl on Jul 22, 2021 at 12:41 am

How can I voice my opinion?? This is literally right next door to my apartment. I have a small child. I am already uneasy about this. Will there be more crime in the area?? Do I have to worry more about my car being broken into??

Up 27 Down 3

Wondering on Jul 21, 2021 at 10:00 pm

TMYK
Where is the "Centre of Hope"?

Up 65 Down 6

Nathan Living on Jul 21, 2021 at 9:43 pm

I agree with most of the comments here.
A safe place with free drugs if they are made available will not solve many of the drug related problems.

And yes, Whitehorse is becoming Ike the downtown Eastside. Please stop enabling destructive behavior with ideological solutions to complex problems.

Up 66 Down 7

Jim on Jul 21, 2021 at 9:22 pm

It’s a little ironic that we will assist individuals who wish to self harm themselves with illegally purchased drugs, by spending who knows how much on renovations and staffing. But if you get pulled over driving to work without a seatbelt on your going to receive a fine. So what happens when someone shows up already high, wanting to get higher yet. Do the staff say no and send them down the road, where they will most likely OD, or do they let them OD there and call the ambulance when it happens?
What kind of liability are the staff and YTG opening themselves up to? Bar servers have been legally held responsible for clients who drink too much and have accidents elsewhere. We have a problem, yes. But catering to NDP black mail is not good governance.

Up 59 Down 8

Joe on Jul 21, 2021 at 7:23 pm

Once again, more NDP garbage as a result of liberal MLA pension plan coalition. All you lib voters out there should be proud your values got thrown out the window in favour of pensions for MLA's.

Up 132 Down 16

Anie on Jul 21, 2021 at 5:29 pm

Territorial government, with the cooperation of municipal government, is making every effort to totally destroy downtown Whitehorse. And they are succeeding. I feel sorry for homeowners. I certainly will not go downtown on my own after dark, and avoid it in daylight as well. Congratulations folks. You have destroyed an area that was on its way to revitalization

Up 98 Down 14

Max Mack on Jul 21, 2021 at 4:36 pm

And yet, BC, which the Yukon is desperately attempting to model via "safe consumption sites" and "harm reduction", has the highest rate of per-capita opioid and illicit drug related deaths in the country. Most of those deaths are in cities with supervised injection sites.

The activists still beat their own drum by claiming that there have been no illicit drug deaths at a supervised injection site.
Of course, they ignore the glaring truth that users go offsite to continue with their drug consumption habits away from prying eyes.

Make no mistake . . . this push for "safe injection sites" and "harm reduction" is ideological and political in nature.

Up 101 Down 15

Richard Smith on Jul 21, 2021 at 4:30 pm

As a person who worked in addictions settings for many years, these "supervised consumption sites" will end up a disaster.
Giving people free illicit drugs will encourage expanded use reducing its stigma and making it more socially acceptable especially to our youth.
Expanded addiction treatment services is the best way to go for those committed to getting off illicit drugs.

Up 68 Down 16

Juniper Jackson on Jul 21, 2021 at 4:26 pm

Are the drugs going to be free too? If they are, I want to get in line for some decent pain killers. Getting a pain killer out of my doctor is like pulling teeth off a chicken.

Up 62 Down 8

Dan Davidson on Jul 21, 2021 at 4:10 pm

So either rural folks will have to travel to the city for this service or all the problems are in the city? As for the terminology, which seems to be ubiquitous across Canada, why are we avoiding what these sites are really for? After all, any fast food joint qualifies as a supervised consumption site, just not that kind of consumption.

Up 91 Down 21

Guncache on Jul 21, 2021 at 3:51 pm

Waste of my tax dollars. Will Larry be there to get his picture taken?

Up 107 Down 15

TMYK on Jul 21, 2021 at 3:44 pm

Just so we are clear the Liberals are turning a bariatric care centre that cost a ton to renovate and into a government funded drug house in the middle of a residential neighborhood? Why couldn't this have been placed in the "Centre for Hope"?

Up 49 Down 68

Johnson on Jul 21, 2021 at 3:36 pm

This is an irresponsible and misleading headline. A safe consumption site is not some sketchy 'drug safe-house' - it is a healthcare facility.

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