Plans to launch a supervised drug consumption treatment site (CTS) in downtown Peterborough have taken a major step forward, officials announced Monday.
Peterborough Public Health reports all the necessary applications for the CTS site have been submitted to Health Canada and the provincial government. Aiming to operate out of the former Greyhound bus station at 220 Simcoe St., the site will provide a safe, hygienic space for people to use drugs under the supervision of health professionals to prevent opioid poisoning deaths.
The site will also offer “defined pathways” to addiction treatment services, primary care, mental health, housing and social supports.
There have been 34 drug-related deaths in Peterborough this year.
PARN relocated its Harm Reduction Works program to the building shortly after it opened in October. The program, funded by the health unit, provides sterile equipment for drug use, such as needles, to prevent the transmission of blood-borne viruses like HIV and hepatitis C. The program also distributes naloxone to individuals at risk of overdose in the community.
“As a proven health intervention that will help to prevent drug poisonings and save the lives of our residents, we are committed to supporting our community partners as they continue to pursue this important work,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, medical officer of health.
Gail Parry, a representative of Moms Stop the Harm Peterborough, says the applications are a “huge step” for the city. Her daughter Jodi died due to addiction in 2018.
“This is a huge step for Peterborough that will save lives and reduce the pain that so many families are feeling in our community,” stated Parry. “I work closely with so many moms who have lost their children to drug use in our region and we know all too well the stigma and misunderstandings that surround addictions. It is heartening to see the support that Peterborough has for a CTS.”
The health unit says the application requires an exemption from the federal government to operate a site under Section 56.1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), and approval from the province, which will provide funding under Ontario’s Consumption and Treatment Services program.
The application included community consultations this year from downtown businesses, residents and people who use drugs to gain their perspectives on the proposed, site which also houses a new mobile Strategic Overdose Response Team (MSORT).
“Overall, we heard support for a CTS on Simcoe Street in downtown Peterborough in the community consultation sessions,” said PARN executive director Charles Shamess. “Local residents and businesses understand the need to save lives in our community. We are committed to ongoing engagement with our neighbours to ensure the success of the site.”
Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef says to date the federal government has approved 40 supervised consumption sites, which have been accessed 2.2 million times and reversed nearly 17,500 overdoses.
“The evidence is clear — these sites save lives,” said Monsef.
The health unit says that until government funding is approved, the community partners are carrying the costs. The Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough recently launched a $50,000 crowdfunding campaign to support the site. Donations can be made online.
360 Degree Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic has also submitted an application to offer services at the site.
“We look forward to building trusting relationships in the CTS space, where people who face a lot of stigma elsewhere can come to get the help they want, including wound care and links to treatment and other health care,” said Suzanne Galloway, executive director.
Other community partners included the Canadian Mental Health Association Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge, Peterborough County-City Paramedics, Peterborough Police Service, Peterborough Drug Strategy and Fourcast.
— More to come