A consumption and treatment services site in Cambridge is a step closer to reality after it was announced the AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo & Area (ACCKWA) will be applying to the province to be the operator.

In October 2021, Cambridge City Council approved 150 Main Street in Galt’s downtown core as the location of the CTS site.

ACCKWA already helps operate a community space in the same building, and Executive Director Ruth Cameron says the team there is already responding to overdoses.

“What we want is a safe place where people who are going to use substances anyway can use without stigma and receive supports to keep them as healthy as they can be,” said Cameron.

She adds that the CTS site will also open the door for individuals to engage with other services, including recovery and other forms of treatment.

ACCKWA will lead the application to operate the CTS site, with support and collaboration from the Cambridge North Dumfries Ontario Health Team (CND OHT) and other community partners.

Cameron notes that the application process is an extensive one and includes consultation with the community as well as nearby businesses. It will also include a proposed model of how the site will operate under the government’s strict requirements and regulations.

It is expected the application itself will take several months. After that, the Ministry of Health will have to respond.

Cameron says in some cases, once the CTS site application is approved, the operator has been given the go ahead to start running a temporary site while the permanent one is constructed.

“In Cambridge, over the last four or five years, we've lost around 100 individuals to overdose, and I am certain that the community does not want another life lost due to drug poisoning or drug toxicity,” said Cameron.

Kristin Kerr, the Executive Director of Stonehenge Therapeutic Community and the CND OHT Steering Committee Mental Health and Addictions Lead, says once the application is approved, they will be working to get a CTS up and running as soon as possible.

“There is an overwhelming understanding of the urgency to get this service put in place,” said Kerr.

People looking to learn more about CTS and harm reduction can contact ACCKWA at cambridgects@acckwa.com. Frequently asked questions, as well as ways to provide feedback, will be posted soon on their website.