Peterborough police said they’re alarmed by a spike in opioid overdose deaths over the last couple of weeks. There have been 22 deaths in the city so far this year — three in the last week and a half.
That leaves Peterborough ranked fourth in opioid-related deaths in Ontario.
“Since we last spoke at the end of July, at that point we had 19 deaths, but we believe we’re at 22 at this time,” said Deputy Chief Tim Farquharson.
“Which puts us higher than any other year, since Oxycontin in the early 2000s.”
Every day, the opiod crisis is getting worse in Peterborough. This year alone, Farquharson said the police service has received 166 overdose calls and those are just the calls that come through 911. Farquharson said the city is pushing to get a supervised consumption and treatment service site. But it comes with challenges, and time is of the essence.
“You have the NIMBYism piece — the not in my backyard piece — the stigma still around addictions so, that part of it is huge,” Farquharson said.
“People realize that it has to be in the downtown area because that’s where the services are and that’s where people congregate, but nobody has been willing to step up.”
WATCH: (Jan. 30, 2019) Reports of needles have dropped since Edmonton’s supervised consumption sites opened
However, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith says there are some new developments in establishing a supervised consumption site.
“We’ll find takers with it, I’m very optimistic about it,” Smith said. “We have a couple of good leads that I’ll be working on next week for it. We’d like to be making an announcement in the near future; I can’t give you a timeline yet, because until we actually have a space we can’t configure the space.”
“It’s been a challenge, but we have some promising leads so we’re working with them to make sure that they’re able to continue the business that they do but also while helping the community through this,” said Mayor of Peterborough Diane Therrien.
But the clock is ticking.
“Every day that goes by, we have the opportunity for someone else overdosing and dying,” Smith said. “It is incumbent upon us to move as quickly as possible but we also have to do set it up right.
“If we do it quickly we’ll have to come back and do it again because we won’t get it right. We need to do it right the first time so that we only have to do it once and we can save more people’s lives.”
Global News reached out to Peterborough’s Downtown Business Improvement Area Executive Director Terry Guiel for comment about possible vacancies in the downtown core, but has yet to receive a response