Keep injection sites out of Cambridge cores, mayor urges region
Published Sunday, April 8, 2018 5:31PM EDT
Public health officials are about a month away from identifying even possible locations for supervised injection sites – but some parts of Waterloo Region could be excluded from consideration much sooner than that.
Tuesday morning, regional councillors will decide whether to move to the next phase of pursuing public injection sites.
They’ll be voting on a recommendation to start with as many as three sites, all of which would be integrated with services such as “basic health care and access to treatment.”
Supervised injection sites are locations in which drug users are given access to clean needles, a sterile environment and a mechanism for needle disposal.
Proponents of the sites say they result in fewer overdose deaths, more referrals to drug treatment programs, less litter from discarded needles and no change in drug-related crime.
If Tuesday’s vote is in favour of the recommendation, a list of potential locations for the supervised injection sites could be made public by next month.
Separately, councillors will vote on a motion from Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig to exclude the Galt, Preston and Hespeler cores from consideration as places where supervised injection sites could be set up.
The Galt core in particular has been highlighted as a desirable location for a site as it and downtown Kitchener are the two parts of the region most likely to see opioid-related emergencies.
Craig has argued that public opinion is against putting a site in the Galt core. At two recent public meetings on the issue, a number of people spoke in opposition to having the Galt core host a supervised injection site.
The majority of the people who spoke at the public meetings were in favour of creating supervised injection sites in general, and said little about where they should be located.
Regional officials say there will be “ongoing and extensive public consultation” as the process of considering supervised injection sites moves forward.
In addition to scouting potential locations, public health workers are also looking at what role community health groups could play in the operation of the sites, and whether they could be expanded to include forms of drug consumption other than injection.
Authorities believe that there were 71 overdose-related deaths in Waterloo Region in 2017.