‘This part of the city is on fire’; Pleasant Hill Bakery closes shop to make room for safe injection site
After 63 years, Pleasant Hill Bakery has closed its doors to make room for AIDS Saskatoon’s proposed safe injection site.
“It’s not like it’s exciting to see this happen. It’s sad in a lot of respects,” owner Keith Jorgenson said.
Jorgenson bought the building in 2016 and ran an independent school in the back for at-risk youth.
“That was certainly something I enjoyed doing, it was sort of my dream job,” he said.
The school program had to close after funding cuts from the province and the program’s inability to keep up with the communities growing needs, Jorgenson said.
“The situation in the community has deteriorated quite a bit.”
He said the he has noticed more people in the Pleasant Hill neighbourhood high on meth. Last year, the bakery’s basement flooded because the drainage was plugged with used hypodermic needles, he said.
“You think of how many hypodermic needles you would need to jam a drainage pipe, obviously people are using drugs in the neighbourhood,” he said.
After learning about AIDS Saskatoon’s plans to open up a safe injection site in Saskatoon, Jorgenson decided to sell the building to the organization.
“I don’t think anybody would say they want a safe injection site, but I would argue that we need a safe injection site,” Jorgenson told CTV News.
AIDS Saskatoon bought the building earlier this year and takes possession April 1. Executive director Jason Mercredi said the bakery is in an ideal location.
“It’s about the furthest we could get from all the different residential areas but also still have access to people living in the neighbourhood who do use injection drugs,” Mercredi said.
AIDS Saskatoon is waiting to receive permission from Health Canada to open Saskatoon’s first safe consumption site.
A site that Jorgenson said is needed.
“This part of the city is on fire, but people have decided just to let it burn.”