Brussels will be spending €1.8 million to open a ‘risk reduction space’ or ‘safe space’ in the city where addicts can take drugs under medical supervision and with access to recovery resources, Mayor Close (PS) announced at a meeting of the city council last night.
Two spaces must open by the end of the year, according to Bruzz, whose journalists covered the meeting.
The first will be located at 9 rue de Woeringen near the Brussels-South station and comes at the cost of €1.8 million.
The second is planned for the avenue du Port near the Alhambra/Ijzerwijk and will be managed by the Brussels Region.
“These are users’ areas that make it easier for drug addicts to get help,” Close said in defense of the decision at the council meeting, after it was criticised by opposition parties CDH and MR.
The opposition believe the safe spaces will be more like ‘shooting galleries’ and that they might cause an extra nuisance in neighbourhoods that already have a lot of problems.
According to Close, it is important that the spaces be located in precisely those neighbourhoods, “because addicts don’t usually move around much. They stay in the same neighbourhood.”
N-VA was also opposed.
“It will result in a de facto tolerated zone for drug possession and trade within a radius of five hundred metres, possibly even one kilometre,” said Brussels member of parliament Mathias Vanden Borre.
“We have to ask ourselves fundamental questions about the approach to drugs in Brussels. A tolerance zone for drugs in the middle of one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Brussels can never be a good idea. Won’t this create a huge sucking-in effect for junkies and dealers?”
Residents of the affected neighbourhoods can attend a meeting on 22 September where extra information will be given about the spaces.