PARN, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP push for local consumption and treatment service site

Some in Peterborough are advocating for a consumption and treatment service site in the city as the number of opioid-related deaths in the area continues to climb. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

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.”

READ MORE: Canadian drug companies facing $1.1B lawsuit over opioid crisis

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.

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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.

“[Opioids are] a global issue,” said Peter Williams, chair of Peterborough Drug Strategy. “It’s certainly a national issue. Peterborough, in terms of the context of Ontario, is one of the hotspots.”

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.

READ MORE: Public Health reveals 629 Ontarians died from opioid overdoses in first six months last year

“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.”

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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.

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