June 26, 2019 8:15 am

Hundreds rally to save ‘hub for the homeless’, demand action on supervised injection site pledge

About 200 people have gathered at Hamilton city hall for a rally, saying a multi-service hub for the homeless needs to be saved from closure.

Ken Mann

The City of Hamilton is being urged to turn words into action when it comes to helping people who are struggling with addiction and homelessness.

READ MORE: City urged to act to prevent closure of Hamilton’s Wesley Day Centre

About 200 people rallied at the city hall forecourt Tuesday afternoon, trying to stop the threatened closure of the Wesley Day Centre, which is slated to close August 23 because the landlord isn’t renewing its lease.

The Shelter Health Network’s Dr. Jill Wiwcharuk says the day centre is a critical service hub where the most vulnerable of residents can access things like health care, housing services, food, showers and laundry facilities.

READ MORE: Hamilton council backs local bid for permanent consumption and treatment site

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She’s hoping the rally will put pressure on city councillors to help find it a new purpose-built home in the downtown core, possibly in conjunction with a supervised injection site that provides wrap-around services including health care, addictions counselling and social services.

Hamilton City Council committed several months ago to a full-service supervised injection site, but it hasn’t been to find a suitable location.

READ MORE: Hamilton seeks to operate its own safe injection site

Dr. Wiwcharuk adds that “wringing their hands and saying they can’t find a landlord is not acceptable, it’s time to buy a building.”

Provincial statistics show 89 opioid-related deaths in Hamilton during the first nine months of last year, a 20 per cent increase compared to the January-September period in 2017.

The Public Health Ontario numbers also indicate that Hamilton’s death rate — more than 15 per 100,000 population — is almost twice the Ontario average.

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