Disappointed director says Rutland safe consumption site would have been 'great for the neighbourhood' - InfoNews

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Disappointed director says Rutland safe consumption site would have been 'great for the neighbourhood'

Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
December 19, 2016 - 2:32 PM

KELOWNA – After scrambling to be ready on less than one weeks' notice, staff at Living Positive in Rutland are expressing their disappointment at a tenant in their building who is forcing them to find a new location for an overdose prevention site.

“The landlord has stated that it can’t go ahead,” executive director Clare MacDonald says. “One tenant has said they would immediately give notice.”

Living Positive was planning to accept their first patients Friday, Dec. 16, the same day she heard from her landlord.

“The assumption is that its going to create a whole bunch of people hanging around outside causing chaos,” she says. “Really what it is is stigma and judgements. It’s just the stubbornness of not wanting to even see if this will improve the area.”

MacDonald says if anything, the changes they were implementing would have made things even safer for neighbouring businesses and residents.

“Some of the complaints that have come up in the past is that people come here and pick up supplies and end up using in alleyways or using businesses’ bathrooms. This is a different option.”

Living Positive was planning on hiring two additional staff members as well as a security guard for the overdose prevention site. Now they are starting over again and in the hunt for a suitable location in the Rutland area. She says they have a few promising leads but nothing is concrete yet.

“We don’t have a deadline but every day the service isn’t offered is another the day someone might die,” she says. “For me it’s a no-brainer and the added benefit is that it’s great for the neighbourhood.

MacDonald asks that anyone who has a suitable short-term lease to contact Living Positive.

“It’s really disappointing to be told you can’t do something that’s going to save lives because some people are not willing to engage in the conversation.”

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