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Safe Injection Site Supporters, Protesters Fill City Hall For Mayor Jim Kenney's Budget Address

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia's opioid epidemic was front and center at Mayor Jim Kenney's budget address on Thursday afternoon. It comes after a botched attempt to open a safe injection site in South Philadelphia.

On average, more than 1,100 people die per year in Philadelphia from drug overdoses. Kenney said the city should be doing everything it can to save more lives.

"I want to be very clear that I refuse to look another parent in the face and tell them I didn't do everything I could to try and keep their child alive long enough to survive their disease," Kenney said.

Kenney is hitting the city's opioid epidemic head-on and asking City Council to put more money toward it.

"I know we all agree the city must do more to save lives and help our fellow Philadelphians reach their God-given potential," Kenney said.

The gallery at City Hall was packed with supporters and opponents to Kenney's initiative.

Kenney Budget Address
(credit: CBS3)

"This is, to me, lowballing the problem that we have. It's not fixing anything, it's too simple," safe injection site opponent Jamie Paylor said.

"We have people dropping dead all around us. And if something has been proven to work, then we need to bring that here to Philly," supporter Brooke Feldman said.

Many in the audience live in South Philly, near Constitution Health Plaza.

Last month, residents were given less than a week's notice that a safe injection site was going to open there.

Because of the outcry, they were successful in getting the owners of the plaza to cancel the injection site's lease.

Moments before the mayor spoke Thursday, the council passed a resolution that would allow residents to have input if a safe injection site was to open.

"When we talk about putting a site in this or any neighborhood in the city of Philadelphia, we want to make sure the process is inclusive," Councilman Kenyatta Johnson said.

City Council will begin their hearings on the mayor's plan later this month.

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