Council continues debate over safe injection sites

Philadelphia City Hall.
Photo credit Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution last week, condemning the lack of community participation in the now-cancelled plan for a safe injection site in South Philadelphia, but not before vigorous debate. 

Opponents and advocates of the overdose prevention strategy packed council chambers, alternately booing and cheering as council members shared their view about the resolution. Newcomer Kendra Brooks agreed there should have been community participation in the South Philadelphia plan but said the resolution went well beyond that.

"The language used throughout is crafted to inspire fear and spread misinformation," said Brooks. "I reject a framework that treats the opening of a life-saving medical facility as a moral crisis but treats the death of over 1,000 Philadelphians each year as a norm."

Mark Squilla defended the resolution, citing experts who question the effect of the sites. "All the research has not proven that safe injection sites actually save lives and it is very possible that providing such access maybe even increases death in our cities," he argued.

Indeed, even as council debated, Alberta, Canada health officials released a report showing an increase in overdose deaths, needle debris and crime near its sites.

The resolution passed with just two no votes. It has no real impact but a council committee will, on Monday, consider a bill establishing strict rules for opening a site.