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Etterbeek mayor calls for open drug space, but Brussels region has other priority areas

Gate drug consumption space Brussels - Belga
13:29 22/11/2023

Etterbeek mayor Vincent De Wolf (MR) wants a safe space for drug users to open in the municipality due to an increasing number of addicts in metro stations, report local media.

"We will undoubtedly open more user spaces," responded Brussels-Capital climate transition, environment and energy minister Alain Maron (Ecolo). "But they have to be in the neighborhoods where there are the most users, and I'm thinking especially of Ribaucourt and the North Quarter."

Although the liberal Mouvement Reformateur party was critical of the first risk-reduction space to open in Brussels in 2022, De Wolf is now in favour of supervised drug consumption centres.

"Pupils of the Saint-Michel College no longer dare to go to the metro station because they see people using there. Do we think that's normal?" said the mayor, who added: "It is clear that my party does not support this idea, but what should I do in my situation? To watch or to react?"

In La Dernière Heure, De Wolf argued for a risk-reducing user space due to the municipality’s increasing problem of drug addicts, especially in metro stations.

In the short term, he wants to take action by sending mixed patrols onto the streets. In addition to police officers, they would include social workers from the municipality and Transit, the city’s drug addiction service.

Longer term, he wants a user space, although he recognised the need for regional support. "If the region doesn't help, I'll have to make myself heard," he warned.

Brussels region currently plans to open a second safe space for drug users in the north of Brussels, near Ribaucourt or Yser metro stations. Minister Maron announced the plan in July 2023.

The first site, Gate, opened last year on Rue de Woeringen near Brussels-Midi station.

Photo: Gate drug consumption space ©Juliette Bruynseels/Belga

Written by The Bulletin