Melbourne City Council will support the state government’s controversial proposal for a safe injecting room in the CBD.
But several councillors have voted against the plan.
A motion by councillor Roshena Campbell to oppose the injecting room was voted down 7-4.
Likewise, a separate motion on a council management report that recommended support for the room also was passed 7-4.
Cr Campbell had said the proposal was “nothing short of insanity”, saying it would harm the city’s recovery from the COVID-19 lockdown, but Lord Mayor Sally Capp endorsed the room.
“I acknowledge that the location of a medically supervised injecting service in the City of Melbourne will be controversial,” Ms Capp said.
“But the evidence shows services such as these save lives, and they do reduce the number of people who are shooting up in our city streets.
“Combating addiction is incredibly complex. Reducing drug use and dependency would benefit our entire society.”
Ms Capp said a resident near a known drug “hotspot area” at the intersection of Flinders and Elizabeth streets described it as a slum.
“Nobody wants that,” she said.
A balance had to be struck between public health and the livelihoods of residents and businesses, she said, adding it might be difficult but not impossible.
Flinders Street has been raised as a second location following the facility in North Richmond, which has been controversial because of its proximity to a school.
Health Minister Martin Foley noted on Wednesday that the greatest degree of drug-related harm within the City of Melbourne occurred within a 250-metre radius of the Flinders and Elizabeth Street intersection.
He said someone died in that location on average twice a month, with overdoses occurring regularly.
Greens health spokesman Tim Read said community concern was understandable but the site made sense given its proximity to public transport, existing drug use and overdoses, and the fact it was not a suburban location.
“It’s very important to remember this is a healthcare facility that will be resuscitating people who have stopped breathing due to heroin overdoses,” Dr Read said.
“This is not a jail, this is something that will actually quite likely benefit the community.”
But Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said the council’s decision was disappointing.
Issues around the Richmond safe injecting room should be resolved before the government entertained the idea of a second facility, he said.