Thunder Bay ‘very interesting’ location for proposed safe injection site, says researcher

published on February 19, 2016 in CBC News

University of British Columbia medical professor Dr. Thomas Kerr is leading feasibility study in Thunder Bay

The city of Thunder Bay faces unique challenges as it works towards creating a supervised injection site, says one of the lead researchers examining the feasibility of the project.

Dr. Thomas Kerr is a professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia and has spent years studying safe injection sites in Vancouver, and around the world.

“Let’s be clear. Thunder Bay is a very, very interesting site for feasibility work of this kind,” said Kerr.

Thunder Bay was formed by the amalgamation of several smaller communities and stretches along the shoreline of Stephanie Lakeuperior. It has a population of about 110,000 yet is hundreds of kilometres away from another city of a similar size.

“I’m not aware of any location that is like Thunder Bay, being in the more northern reaches, including rural and non-rural components . I’ve never seen a similar place do this type of work so I think it’s very interesting but it also really points to the fact that it’s needed,” he said.

Kerr explained the feasibiltiy study must look at the location of the site, how it can be integrated with other health care services, and the actual design.

Research shows that supervised injection sites can vary from a few rooms in a medical clinic, to a large stand-alone facility, which is the case in Vancouver’s east end, with over 5,000 injection drug users in the neighbourhood, said Kerr.

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