Unsuccessful nap break later. Currently drinking hot water with honey and ginger, as experienced at Sushiro. (Cheap and strongly recommended, also won’t stain my tender enamel like coffee and tea. Seriously, my dentist told me to stop drinking so much coffee. I have like 1 or 2 cups a week?)

p. 315 is the report of the executive committee, which is everyone on council. All these committees! What do they do. It is a mystery. I bet there are cookies though. At the meetings. Then there is a long list of who is being appointed to which committee. This goes all the way to p. 334, which is when we descend into madness. Well, perhaps not madness. But there is a lot of repetition.

p. 334 is the start of the Needle Exchange Program report. Upon reading this part twice, it looks like the City has submitted a report and supporting documents, and someone critical of the information has printed out this report and supporting documents, annotated them, included some other counterfactual documents and submitted these for inclusion in the agenda. This hoary mess extends to page 473. I need to print out this entire block and pin it up on the wall with yarn strings and post-it notes to decipher it fully, but alas I do not have enough wall or energy. To sum it up: the City administration is recommending that the zoning bylaws for medical clinics include needle exchanges. That is it. In case you would like to skip this section, all you need to know is :

1. The needle exchange has been operational for several years; it is only open from 1-3 pm and an average of 2 people use it per day (it’s just one of the services offered by AIDS Saskatoon at that location.)

2. Crime rates have gone downhill in Caswell and Mayfair since the opening of this clinic. (Obligatory correlation does not imply causation blurb here.)

3. Some residents have become concerned that, upon learning there is a needle exchange in the area, it is raising crime rates. (Obligatory correlation does not imply causation blurb here.)

4. The supporting evidence for needle exchange and other harm-reduction programs is supported by health regions, health authorities, doctors, and researchers; the majority of published studies indicate positive outcomes; and the majority of programs have also reported positive outcomes.

5. The arguments against needle exchange programs and other harm-reduction programs consist of moral/value judgements, unsupported claims and very little evidence. Granted, there are two studies that conclude that needle exchanges do little to reduce the HIV infection rate in the community (if I’ve read this properly, the supporting material in the agenda is a touch…disjointed).

It’s all very similar to the Insite arguments, if you’re familiar with that story. One would think from the tone of some of the correspondence that this is an equivalent situation.

Characters in this drama:

Ms. Lori Prostebby, business owner and aggrieved party;

Councillor Hill; councillor

Councillor Lorje; councillor

AIDS Saskatoon; 601 33rd St W

Assorted health region officials.

The scene: Ms Prostebby has recently learned that there is a needle exchange operating out of a neighbouring building to her business. Despite the needle exchange being in operation for several years without her awareness, she feels that it is responsible for the perceived increase in crime in her area (including, but not limited to, the theft of her van, valued at $1000). Ms Prostebby owns a sef-serve dog wash which also offers complimentary home-made brownies (for your four-legged friend, not you). 

Anyways, this situation requires more research, which means I am personally going to go down to 33rd and have a delicious bowl of dolsot bibimbap, some green curry, and red bean ice cream at the Rice Bowl. (I’m kidding about the curry. My tastebuds are still growing back after that one, three years later.) Seriously, it is one of my favourite places to eat in the city. And Christie’s is just down the block.

p. 353 is the report from the Health Region, touting the benefits of harm reduction. Fun fact: the needle return rate is 129%, which means there is a net influx of needles to the exchange. Anyways, if you miss this one, don’t despair, it’s included again on p. 390.

p. 372 has a comprehensive list of what the SPS has been up to in the area, including a CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) study with the full compliance of the owner of a licensed establishment on 33rd, in order to reduce criminal activity around that bar. I imagine we can all guess which establishment this is.

p 375 is a letter from the Riversdale Business Improvement District stating that they unanimously oppose the installation of a “safe injection site or other social medical outreach within the RBID’s boundary”. Hopefully the RBID’s boundary does not extend to St. Paul’s Hospital, otherwise things might get awkward.

p. 408 is a letter dated June 11 of this year from Ms. Prostebby.
She urges the administration to look at the crime stats for the area since it has increased.

Crime stats for the area:
Caswell down 20.3 percent in violent crimes
Caswell down 11 percent in property crimes
Mayfair down 5.6 percent in violent crimes
Mayfair down 16.3 percent in property crimes

Ms Prostebby wants to know why giving needles to addicts is considered “harm reduction”. “the diseases, illnesses they get are just as bad or even worse then Adis [sic] itself, overtime they inject death is a consequence. It affects us all by more healthcare dollars.” I…what. Exactly. Every time they inject *with a used or dirty needle* death is a consequence. By handing out clean needles, they reduce the chance of death. Congratulations Ms Prostebby, you have, despite yourself, become a champion of needle exchanges.

p. 410 is another letter from Ms Prostebby. I am not going to bother any more with this.

p. 411 is a letter from the Medical Health Officer summarizing what has been done re. harm reduction and substance abuse, what the police have done, and what the outcomes have been. I admire these people for their patience.

p 416 is another printout and subsequent scan of the AIDS Saskatoon website. People. I am going to insist you start listing the “environmental implications” of producing this agenda. I am beginning to see the value of getting tablets for every councillor. If you would like to do likewise for me, I’m waiting for the retina iPad mini to come out. Thanks in advance.

p. 419 is a printout of an email to Ms Prostebby from AIDS Saskatoon that she has printed off and sent in. (I know she has done this because her header is at the top). If only there was some more convenient way of, say, forwarding an email.

p. 422 is a scan of a printout of the AIDS Saskatoon financial statements. What is going on.

p. 424 is a printout of the News Talk 650 CKOM story on the approval for the generic form of Oxycontin. Oh, how my brain hurts. Oh, if only there was some convenient way of sharing information from different websites on the Internet. Or at least some way that you could “copy” and “paste” information from a website in a document, perhaps we could call it a “Portable Document Format”. Alas, we must resort to printing things off and scanning them. If you’re wondering why I am so distressed about this, I have customers who, when asked for a “higher resolution copy” of their logo (or any copy, really) print off their shitty JPG that they first sent me blown up and then scan it back in to their computer.

p. 425 is a copy of “The Medical Profession Act, 1981” from the provincial government. At this point I have officially stopped trying to make sense of what is going on here. Apparently they are tossing in everything that they can find after googling “medical + saskatchewan”.

p. 428 is a letter from Dr Johnmark Opondo to Ms Prostebby. He has included specific statistics for how many needles were exchanged in Saskatchewan and how many were exchanged at the 601. The return rate is 123.1% if you want to know. There are also about 4500 tests done every month in Saskatchewan for HIV positivity.

p. 429 is a scare pamphlet from an anti-exchange “news” outlet. I can tell this because of 1. the font. 2. the cherry picking of statistics (of course the needle exchange program is going to have a higher rate of HIV positivity. This is like saying homeless shelters cause unemployment.) 3. It also makes statements without backing them up with pesky things such as facts or evidence. 4. the presence of the word “honesty”, which when used in this context, usually means anything but. (See also “political correctness”.)

p. 431 is a scan of a printout of a news release from the Gov’t of SK announcing the “Healthy Lifestyles Day for Youth”. This involves the assembling of 1900+ grade 7 students from Saskatoon in Prairieland Park for two days to hear presentations about healthy lifestyles. Mostly these presentations are about unhealthy lifestyles such as alcohol consumption and texting while driving, two things completely foreign to high school students. (Although, one hopes, they are mostly unexperienced by 7th graders.)

Oh man, I remember all the special field trips we did to neighbouring locales to hear anti-drug messages. Mostly I remember worrying about who I was going to sit with on the bus and whether the boy I currently liked and was totally unable to speak to was going to sit in the next seat. I already knew drugs were bad. (Also I had no idea who George Chuvalo was, aside that he was a very sad man who had a very sad life but at some point  had boxed some other guys that sounded vaguely familiar.) Events like these make the adults feel like they are Doing Something Good For The Kids while the kids are just plotting how they can sit on each other’s laps on the bus ride home. (One of our field trips may have also involved the fenestric distribution of Kraft Singles from a moving vehicle.)

p. 431 is a printoff of Laurence Thompson Strategic Consulting’s website. I am dead. This agenda has killed me. Please sue accordingly. I’d like a nice bylaw in my name. “HILARY’S LAW AGAINST PRINTING OFF WEBSITES AND THEN SCANNING THEM IN WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.”

p. 432 is a print — Nope, I can’t do it. It is a profile of persons diagnosed with HIV in Saskatchewan. If you have been reading this agenda in chronological order, you will be very familiar with the charts as you have seen them at least three times by now.

p. 438 is a random page from a medical journal? Oh there is something in there about killing HIV viruses with something else.

p. 439 is an excerpt from the review of needle exchange programs in SK. Fun fact: Alberta and Manitoba distribute safer crack kits, since their population prefers smoking.

p. 440 is the HIV Strategy for Saskatchewan, courtesy of the Sask Ministry of Health. Hmm, oddly enough it does not call for the immediate cessation of needle-exchange activities.

Here’s  another critical note from, one assumes, Ms Prostebby on p. 448. “Only 2 people a day go to Aids Saskatoon. 2000+ IDU in S’toon.” Well, it should be fairly easy to determine who has stolen your van, then.

p. 450 has some quotes from program staff members of feedback or information they have received from the clients.

What, there is no needle exchange in Yorkton? Iesu Crist. There is a huge IDU high-risk population there.

Also they misspelled Dilaudid. (My sister is a pharmacist.)

Ritalin is the 4th most injected drug in Saskatchewan?

“Many people manage fine with injection drug use while also working”.

There are a couple of things highlighted here, but if the critic who sent this in is trying to turn the report’s numbers against itself, they’re going to fail. Anyone who has read this would recognize the highlighted bits as taken out of context.

Cocaine users who inject can use anywhere from 20 −100 needles per day, depending on how much coke they’ve obtained. Needle exchanges usually hand out 10 per user per day.

p. 454 has some comments from the needle-users themselves.

p. 456 is a summary from another report that concludes needle exchanges reduce HIV infection, there is no convincing evidence of any major unintended negative consequences, that they’re cost effective, that they have additional benefits and that bleach is a silly way of reducing HIV infection. (Bleach is provided, nominally, in prisons, where there is a very high rate of shared needles. Yes, that’s right, IDU occurs in incarcerated populations.)

p. 457 is a bit from the “New Jersey Family Policy Council (Voicing Your Values in the Garden State)”. As expected, their evidence consists of anecdotes and makes extensive use of the passive voice. They also use the term “slippery slope” which, ugh, I apologize again for using earlier. (In the event that I have deleted that particular rant, please disregard.) Anyways, quoting the Toronto Sun, yourself, and other anti-harm-reduction newsletters while ignoring things like medical journals pretty much sums up the quality of “evidence” here. (Sue-Ann Levy is quoted twice, btw.)

Oh look, here they’ve managed to dig up 1 of the 2 studies showing negative outcomes from needle exchanges. (In case you’re wondering, the WHO found 6 studies in favour, 2 negative and 2 inconclusive.)

p. 462 unexpectedly plunges us into the midst of Councillors Hill and Lorje’s correspondence with Ms Prostebby.

p. 463 has some terrific unvarnished bits straight from Pat Lorje. I especially like the quotes around “thoughts”.

p. 464 is a letter from the Premier’s office touting the need for harm reduction and saying that the needle exchange programs have undergone review and they are “implementing improvements”.

OK, the next few pages are more printouts, email correspondence and what-have-you. I am thoroughly tired of this circus and have respect for the patience of the councillors involved.

p. 472 is a printoff of crime stats for the North West area. The offending increases have been marked. There are not very many of them, and of the ones that are increasing, most are in the single digits. (The outlier is a 225% increase in kidnapping/abduction/hostage taking – a jump to 13 from 4 the previous year.) The numbers are trending down, very much so. And this area encompasses much more than just Caswell Hill and Mayfair.

Oh sweet crisp cracker. We are done with the needle exchange stuff. Now is a report by the Administration recommending that public hearings/consultations be conducted in July and August as there is simply not enough time in the rest of the year to accommodate this break. I agree, but then I also think that the July/August school break is an outdated scheduling method. We don’t all live on farms or by the farm schedule any more, especially in this burgeoning metropolis of Saskatoon. And I grew up on a farm. What’s next, a break in February hearings in order to placate the Arizona-bound?

Actually, what would be quite nice is a monthly scheduled meeting, dates advertised well in advance, that keeps the area up-to-date on what is going on with various projects in the community, as well as providing a forum for concerns. I read the agenda and subscribe to news releases from the City, but even I find out about hearings or forums the day they are scheduled to be held. I also attended the Central Ave Master Plan forum and submitted feedback, but have not heard anything else about proposed changes until they’re actually installed on the street in question. (I’m especially pissed about this as I remember the plan I looked at had solid concrete medians in the centre of Central with trees in them and all we have now is bullshit paint stripes on the road. I demand answers. And trees. Also the bollards they picked are roughly the same size and shape as 4-year-olds, so that’s a fun thing to drive past.)

p. 478 is a proposed amendment to the zoning bylaw to create a distinction between places of worship and wedding or funeral parlours.

And we’re onto the correspondence to CIty Council. As they say, “huzzah”.