The City of Cambridge took another step towards opening a consumption and treatment services (CTS) site as the AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo & Area (ACCKWA) has been announced as the potential operator.
The group will now put forward an application to the Ontario Ministry of Health for approval to open the CTS at 150 Main St.
ACCKWA executive director Ruth Cameron was unable to provide a timeline on when the CTS site might be able to open.
She said there would need to be discussions with businesses and residents in the area as well as both the provincial and federal governments. The plan will also need to be developed with the many other community organizations that would be involved.
“So needless to say, with this scope of information that needs to be provided, it will take several months to complete an application and submit it,” Cameron told reporters on Friday morning.
“And we have no knowledge of the turnaround timeline related to that one submitted.”
Kristin Kerr, executive director of Stonehenge Therapeutic Community, said that once the plan is approved, they will be looking to get the CTS up and running quickly.
“As soon as we get the green light, we would be working to move that forward as soon as we possibly can,” she said.
City council approved 150 Main St. as the site last October, after years of debate over a potential site.
While there are still some in the city who disapprove of a CTS in the city, Cameron said there is clearly a need for a safe space for opioid users as more than 500 people have suffered overdose-related deaths in Waterloo Region over the past five years.
“In Cambridge, over the last four or five years, we’ve lost around 100 individuals to overdose,” she noted.
“I’m certain that the community does not want another life lost due to drug poisoning or drug toxicity.”
Cameron believes that having a CTS in Cambridge will help to save lives while also potentially leading some to recovery.
“What we want is a safe place where people who are going to use substances anyway can use without stigma, and receive supports to keep them as healthy as they can be, as well as open the door to engagement with other services that may help them along their journey with regards to their health and well-being, which may include recovery and various forms of treatment as well,” she said.