Members of Barrie, Ont., city council gave their final approval for a location for a local supervised consumption site (SCS) on Monday night.
Before the location of 11 Innisfil St. was approved by council, members heard a slew of deputations both in support of and in opposition of the site.
“There were a lot of really thoughtful comments, constructive comments, and I really appreciate all the work that people put into that,” Barrie Ward 2 councillor Keenan Aylwin said at Monday’s council meeting.
“That gives me hope on how we move forward as a city with this issue addressing the deadly, toxic drug supply crisis. One of the most important things, if this site does get approved by the provincial and federal governments, is that we have people in the neighbourhood near the site who are holding the operators accountable, but also participating in the advisory committee and bringing those great ideas that we heard this evening to that table.”
Aylwin said the supervised consumption site applicants have done a detailed site selection process. He also said there are mitigation strategies in place to address neighbourhood concerns, including security cameras, fencing and having outreach workers onsite.
“If there are issues that come up, we need to hear them. The site operators need to hear them, and we can and will work through them,” Aylwin added.
Barrie Ward 6 councillor Natalie Harris said safety concerns related to the supervised consumption site are “rooted in stigma,” and that there’s no evidence that shows an increased amount of crime around a supervised consumption site.
“The individuals that would attend an SCS are still monitored by medically-trained professionals, registered nurses, etc.,” Harris said.
“They stay there for quite some time, and they are also directed with respect to different services.”
Another misconceptions about SCSs, Harris added, is that they enable drug users.
“These individuals are very advanced in their addiction, their disease of addiction,” the Ward 6 councillor added.
“This … isn’t someone who is curious about using an illicit drug and goes to the SCS to try that. I can guarantee you, if that was the case, the registered nurses that were present would do everything in their power to make sure that was not what was going to happen.”
Barrie Ward 7 councillor Gary Harvey said he doesn’t support the local SCS since it’s in a residential area.
“We’re hearing from so many residents, and it seems like it’s the residents that are closer to the proposed location, that did not receive any notification or any literature,” Harvey said.
“We’re hearing (from) the people that literally are feet away from the location, and it’s only through word of mouth from other neighbours that they found out about this.”
Barrie Ward 10 councillor Mike McCann also said he doesn’t support the SCS.
“The communication and the process was beyond horrible,” McCann said at Monday’s council meeting. “I got a serious problem with voting yes as a council member if the residents that are directly across from it weren’t notified.”
McCann and Harvey both voted against the SCS location at 11 Innisfil St., while all other councillors voted in favour of the site. Barrie Ward 8 councillor Jim Harris declared a possible conflict of interest and didn’t participate in the discussion or the vote.
The application for the local SCS will now go to both the provincial and federal governments for approval.