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71 overdoses at CTS site in downtown Kitchener over first 6 months of 2020

Stations for client use at the consumption and treatment site on Duke Street in Kitchener. Kevin Nielsen / Global News

A staff report presented to Waterloo regional council on Tuesday says that there were 71 overdoses at the consumption and treatment services (CTS) site in downtown Kitchener over the first six months of 2020.

The report states that nearly 75 per cent occurred over the first three months, when site visits were at almost twice what they were in April, May and June.

Read more: Interim CTS site in Kitchener to open Oct. 15

“None of the overdoses at the CTS have been fatal,” Karen Quigley Hobbs, director of infectious disease, sexual health and harm reduction for Waterloo Region, told Global News through email. “Two have resulted in calls to 911 since opening in October of 2019.”

The report says the site, which is located on Duke Street almost directly behind Kitchener City Hall, saw 700 monthly visits over the first three months of 2020. The traffic fell by around 50 per cent over the following three months as we became enmeshed in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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While the number of visits fell after COVID-19 began in earnest, the report says the number of unique visitors remained relatively stable.

Staff are also required to do a regular sweep of the area around the CTS site to search for needles.

From January to June, on average there were around 91 sweeps conducted per month, according to the report. During these sweeps, 212 needles were located.

Read more: Waterloo Public Health — Number of COVID-19 cases from travel trends upwards

The report also said that over the first six months of the year, there were seven 911 calls for non-overdose-related reasons and three incidents that required security assistance.

A dashboard is being launched over the next week or so by Waterloo Public Health that will be updated monthly and include statistics like CTS visits, unique clients, overdoses reversed, needle retrieval, 911 calls and security incidents.

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“The decision to launch a CTS dashboard centres around our goal of transparency,” Quigley Hobbs said.

“As part of our planning, we have looked to other regions who have a CTS to see what their reporting looks like and wanted to follow the lead of those health units who are setting a great example for best practices such as Toronto Public Health and Ottawa.”

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The site, which initially opened on an interim basis last October, was supposed to become a permanent site in February.

The report states that construction delays brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as in confirmation of funding have pushed that estimate to November.

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