Altercation erupts over “illegal” safe injection site

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A picture of Safe Space getting ready earlier this year, taken by a member of Jamestown Strong Facebook Group.

Tensions between the residents of Jamestown and Safe Space came to a head on Sunday, May 16, 2021.

Members of the community, tired of illegal drug use, discarded needles, and the site setting up in their neighborhood, decided to peacefully protest the tent site. They convened at the area of Jamestown, near the children’s park, where Safe Space typically sets up, arriving prior to organization, and occupied the area.

In a widely circulating video, Merissa Dinner, owner of Safe Space, can be seen asking the protesters to stop recording her clients.  Someone identifying himself as “Security” for Safe Space was seen trying to de-escalate the situation.

The residents of Jamestown who have spoken with SaultOnline have repeatedly called Police in regards to the ongoing situation, and admit to being frustrated with the apparent lack of response. This was their next step as they are frustrated with the City for allowing this organization to set up in their area, suggesting that if Safe Space were to set up in some other, more affluent part of the city, it would be shut down quickly.

They are also confused as to how Safe Space can operate without any community consultation, which is a required step along the way of getting a SIS (Safe Injection Site) exemption from Health Canada.

SaultOnline received a statement from Dinner about the situation yesterday.

“There were some people with valid questions which I answered. I answered appropriate questions or people were told to contact me via email [email protected],” said Dinner. “A husband and wife have been there to videotape us before and this time they started calling my clients crackheads.  As I was telling them to leave, my Volunteer stepped in to tell them to leave. The husband attacked him and I got punched in the mouth in the crossfire. Whenever someone has an issue, I support protests. I support freedom of speech and communication, but I refuse to all/any abuse of the City’s most vulnerable.”

Shauna Wilson said to SaultOnline that she and her husband were the “husband and wife” in the above statement, and she provided her side.

“I never once used the word Crackhead! My husband did not attack him! He was coming toward me with his hands up, my husband pushed his arm out of the way and his arm hit her,” said Wilson. “That’s the only reason my husband stepped in is because they were all coming towards me! He stepped in and then my son pulled him away! No punches were thrown! You can see in the video when Paula was talking to him that he said he was coming towards me!”

What is clear is, Dinner has never provided the proper paperwork giving her an exemption by Health Canada, when asked.  Further, residents of the area of tired of the lack of concern that city officials appear to be showing them.

SaultOnline reached out to Sault Police Services last night for comment, but have yet to hear anything back at time of publishing.

Stay with SaultOnline as we bring you more information in this developing situation.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I have mixed feelings about ” safe injections sites “, especially if its indefinitely ongoing, cause its convenient, and theres no deadline. This should not be a long term comfortable place for people to sit back, get jacked up, and be comfortable, for years and years. Agreed?? . If i said, we should build a lounge, where alchoholics can drink, in a nice warm environment, and enjoy their alchohol…..people would say, wtf?? So yea, looking out for these individuals and keeping them safe, yes,… BUT, there has to be an end point, where the user makes a commitment to get clean. Not throw this on citizens and their families to have these spots set up in their backyard. Has to be a little give and take here, and yes, some of the onus lies with the user too.

  2. No protesters blocked her vehicle and she did not get punched in the face. Shauna did not once use the term “crackhead”. She said that the girl didn’t look normal or well and she certainly didn’t.
    She does not have a license or permission to set up in Jamestown.
    Do you see a trend? Lie after Lie.

  3. Tax dollars hard at work there! Maybe open a safe injection site by the mayor’s house and see if it stays there for long!!!

  4. hmmm….so demonstration by protesters against lockdown at Bellevue Park was considered an illegal gathering yet this one wasn’t, I can assume, seeing as no police were present to hand out tickets there

  5. She deserves a harder punch in the head! There is a child’s park right where she sets up! Like have some respect! Shes got kids herself! Does she actually think what she is doing and where she is doing it is alright! She should not be running this safe space because she has no permits or proper training! All of them are crack heads and just out mething everything up and stealing and vandalizing everything that dont belong to them!

    • I agree with everything you said but you can’t label everyone as a crackhead or a their. Most of these people are genuinely sick and need help. That’s like me say you are an entitled person who thinks that they are better than anyone that is an addict. I don’t believe this is true but it puts you in a bad light. Have compassion where it is needed. I believe that she should be shut down before someone gets killed.

  6. And I guess you have to ask… where is the alderman… where is the mayor… there is a pattern here… the Police do not protect people.

    We heard it last night and now again.

  7. I commend her for ger efforts. It’s a needed service, but it has to be done right. The proper steps need to be taken.

    • Bingo. These sites are a needed, useful, and helpful service when done properly. They can remove people from a dangerous situation, allowing for a cleaner neighborhood while saving lives and allowing people who need help to access it.

      Done incorrectly, they can be dangerous to the users of the service AND the community they set up in.

      That’s why they should be regulated. Not because of this NIMBY crap, but because they need to be done right.

  8. The Sault’s finest at their best.

    I left the Sault in 1986 and would never return to what it has become.

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