The Peterborough AIDS Resource Network (PARN) is pushing for a consumption and treatment service site in the Peterborough area.
According to PARN executive director Kim Dolan, the city needs such a facility, but there are many challenges that come with setting one up, including finding a space for the site.
“People are concerned about if there is an overdose site, if it’s downtown, where it needs to be,” Dolan said. “Does that create danger for other people? Actually, it increases community safety —crime rates go down, drug litter goes down. People know that they have a safe place to go where they are welcome and they are treated with respect and dignity.”
Dolan added: “We are able to create more welcoming communities when we create welcoming programs.”
The procedure and application for a consumption and treatment service site are also not easy, according to Dolan. In order to open such a facility, the city needs the approval of both the federal and provincial governments.
In June, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith convened a group to put together an application to send to the province for a consumption and treatment service site.
Smith also started a petition to convince the provincial government that Peterborough needs such a site, and the goal is to get 10,000 signatures.
But time is of the essence. Williams says there have been eight confirmed opioid-related deaths this year and 11 that could be opioid-related, pending confirmation.
“We’re under no assumption that this one key piece is going to be what fixes everything,” Williams said. “This is part of a really large strategy and continuum to a response to both the opioid crisis, addictions and, specifically right now, the drug poisoning issue that we have.”
Williams says there are currently around 16 supervised consumption sites in Ontario, but spaces are running out because the government has put a cap on how many are allowed in Ontario — another reason the city is pressed for time.