Toronto’s Queen West residents hear details about proposed Supervised Injection Site

News Apr 15, 2016 by Hilary Caton Parkdale Villager

Nat Dawn has been a drug user for three years. She uses suboxone, a pill which helps treats her opiate addiction.

Dawn came to a community consultation meeting at Scadding Court Community Centre Thursday, April 14 night to hear about the proposed Supervised Injection Site (SIS) for Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre on Bathurst Street.

“I would definitely use a site like this because I’m sick of bathrooms,” she told The Villager.

“It’s not like they’re hygienic. You’re always wondering if someone is going to knock on the door and you got to rush out... It adds pressure to the user. So having a safe place to do it is good.”

The Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre (CTCHC) is one of three SIS locations being considered in the city. It’s a health service that provides a safe and hygienic environment where people can inject pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of a nurse. The SIS would be on a small-scale and integrated into the already existing site that provides clean needles to users in the area.

The small scale site, if approved by city council in July, would have three injection stations supervised by a nurse, and have an assessment area for users pre- and post-injection. Up to eight users could be in the 500 square-foot area at a time. The SIS would be located on the first floor of the building entrance and be staffed by a nurse, a health promoter, harm reduction staff and peer workers who are there to refer clients to additional services to help with treatment and recovery.

Adding a SIS would reduce the amount of needles in local parks and alleys as well as the spread of HIV and Hepatitis, and public drug use, proponents say.

“I think the evidence is overwhelmingly positive and in favour. SIS save lives. I’ve worked in addiction treatment for 20 years and the evidence for safe injection sites comes from all over the world and it’s positive,” said Denise Denning, a Parkdale resident who attended the meeting.

“When people say it brings addicts to the neighbourhood, it’s like well, no, they’re already here. It’s serving the people who live here.”

According to Angela Robertson, the executive director of the CTCHC, roughly 368 to 774 people who inject drugs already live in the catchment area of College Street to the north, Yonge Street to the east, the lake to the south and Dovercourt Road to the west. Toronto Public Health sited a 56 per cent increase in overdose deaths from 2004 to 2014, with 252 deaths in 2014.

“Based on the rise in deaths due to overdose and the real crisis of overdose we have in our city, we needed these services yesterday,” said Trinity-Spadina Councillor Joe Cressy who is also chair of the city’s drug strategy panel.

“If I had a family member who used drugs I would want them to stop but I would also want them to stay alive long enough so they could have a chance at stopping. That’s what this does.”

The community consultation gave the 60 or so residents in attendance a rundown of why the CTCHC was chosen by the city, mainly due to the 20 years of experience in harm reduction the Queen West location has, and the fact that it’s responding to an existing need already, said David McKeown, the medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health.

Residents also had the opportunity to voice concerns, which were of general safety and the unsettling proximity the SIS would be to St. Mary Elementary School.

“I understand the concerns around public safety, (the community) will wonder if this will have a honey pot effect in terms of attracting drug dealers because folks who are users have a space to use, and will it attract petty crime,” Robertson said.

“Their concerns are legitimate. But it’s our responsibility to work with communities and look at how we can coexist. How can we provide a service that responds to one part of the community while also addressing the concerns that other parts of our community have as well.”

The decision to put the SIS at the Bathurst Street location has not been finalized. A report by Toronto Public Health still needs to be brought before council in July and from there it needs approval from the federal minister of health, who grants an exemption to allow these services to operate.

If the exemption is granted the sites could be up and running as early as 2017, said Cressy.

“I recognize completely that change can be hard,” he said.

“All the evidence I’ve seen about these services is not just about saving lives and public health, it actually increases public safety too and that’s a good thing for the neighbourhood.”

Toronto’s Queen West residents hear details about proposed Supervised Injection Site

News Apr 15, 2016 by Hilary Caton Parkdale Villager

Nat Dawn has been a drug user for three years. She uses suboxone, a pill which helps treats her opiate addiction.

Dawn came to a community consultation meeting at Scadding Court Community Centre Thursday, April 14 night to hear about the proposed Supervised Injection Site (SIS) for Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre on Bathurst Street.

“I would definitely use a site like this because I’m sick of bathrooms,” she told The Villager.

“It’s not like they’re hygienic. You’re always wondering if someone is going to knock on the door and you got to rush out... It adds pressure to the user. So having a safe place to do it is good.”

The Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre (CTCHC) is one of three SIS locations being considered in the city. It’s a health service that provides a safe and hygienic environment where people can inject pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of a nurse. The SIS would be on a small-scale and integrated into the already existing site that provides clean needles to users in the area.

The small scale site, if approved by city council in July, would have three injection stations supervised by a nurse, and have an assessment area for users pre- and post-injection. Up to eight users could be in the 500 square-foot area at a time. The SIS would be located on the first floor of the building entrance and be staffed by a nurse, a health promoter, harm reduction staff and peer workers who are there to refer clients to additional services to help with treatment and recovery.

Adding a SIS would reduce the amount of needles in local parks and alleys as well as the spread of HIV and Hepatitis, and public drug use, proponents say.

“I think the evidence is overwhelmingly positive and in favour. SIS save lives. I’ve worked in addiction treatment for 20 years and the evidence for safe injection sites comes from all over the world and it’s positive,” said Denise Denning, a Parkdale resident who attended the meeting.

“When people say it brings addicts to the neighbourhood, it’s like well, no, they’re already here. It’s serving the people who live here.”

According to Angela Robertson, the executive director of the CTCHC, roughly 368 to 774 people who inject drugs already live in the catchment area of College Street to the north, Yonge Street to the east, the lake to the south and Dovercourt Road to the west. Toronto Public Health sited a 56 per cent increase in overdose deaths from 2004 to 2014, with 252 deaths in 2014.

“Based on the rise in deaths due to overdose and the real crisis of overdose we have in our city, we needed these services yesterday,” said Trinity-Spadina Councillor Joe Cressy who is also chair of the city’s drug strategy panel.

“If I had a family member who used drugs I would want them to stop but I would also want them to stay alive long enough so they could have a chance at stopping. That’s what this does.”

The community consultation gave the 60 or so residents in attendance a rundown of why the CTCHC was chosen by the city, mainly due to the 20 years of experience in harm reduction the Queen West location has, and the fact that it’s responding to an existing need already, said David McKeown, the medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health.

Residents also had the opportunity to voice concerns, which were of general safety and the unsettling proximity the SIS would be to St. Mary Elementary School.

“I understand the concerns around public safety, (the community) will wonder if this will have a honey pot effect in terms of attracting drug dealers because folks who are users have a space to use, and will it attract petty crime,” Robertson said.

“Their concerns are legitimate. But it’s our responsibility to work with communities and look at how we can coexist. How can we provide a service that responds to one part of the community while also addressing the concerns that other parts of our community have as well.”

The decision to put the SIS at the Bathurst Street location has not been finalized. A report by Toronto Public Health still needs to be brought before council in July and from there it needs approval from the federal minister of health, who grants an exemption to allow these services to operate.

If the exemption is granted the sites could be up and running as early as 2017, said Cressy.

“I recognize completely that change can be hard,” he said.

“All the evidence I’ve seen about these services is not just about saving lives and public health, it actually increases public safety too and that’s a good thing for the neighbourhood.”

Toronto’s Queen West residents hear details about proposed Supervised Injection Site

News Apr 15, 2016 by Hilary Caton Parkdale Villager

Nat Dawn has been a drug user for three years. She uses suboxone, a pill which helps treats her opiate addiction.

Dawn came to a community consultation meeting at Scadding Court Community Centre Thursday, April 14 night to hear about the proposed Supervised Injection Site (SIS) for Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre on Bathurst Street.

“I would definitely use a site like this because I’m sick of bathrooms,” she told The Villager.

“It’s not like they’re hygienic. You’re always wondering if someone is going to knock on the door and you got to rush out... It adds pressure to the user. So having a safe place to do it is good.”

The Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre (CTCHC) is one of three SIS locations being considered in the city. It’s a health service that provides a safe and hygienic environment where people can inject pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of a nurse. The SIS would be on a small-scale and integrated into the already existing site that provides clean needles to users in the area.

The small scale site, if approved by city council in July, would have three injection stations supervised by a nurse, and have an assessment area for users pre- and post-injection. Up to eight users could be in the 500 square-foot area at a time. The SIS would be located on the first floor of the building entrance and be staffed by a nurse, a health promoter, harm reduction staff and peer workers who are there to refer clients to additional services to help with treatment and recovery.

Adding a SIS would reduce the amount of needles in local parks and alleys as well as the spread of HIV and Hepatitis, and public drug use, proponents say.

“I think the evidence is overwhelmingly positive and in favour. SIS save lives. I’ve worked in addiction treatment for 20 years and the evidence for safe injection sites comes from all over the world and it’s positive,” said Denise Denning, a Parkdale resident who attended the meeting.

“When people say it brings addicts to the neighbourhood, it’s like well, no, they’re already here. It’s serving the people who live here.”

According to Angela Robertson, the executive director of the CTCHC, roughly 368 to 774 people who inject drugs already live in the catchment area of College Street to the north, Yonge Street to the east, the lake to the south and Dovercourt Road to the west. Toronto Public Health sited a 56 per cent increase in overdose deaths from 2004 to 2014, with 252 deaths in 2014.

“Based on the rise in deaths due to overdose and the real crisis of overdose we have in our city, we needed these services yesterday,” said Trinity-Spadina Councillor Joe Cressy who is also chair of the city’s drug strategy panel.

“If I had a family member who used drugs I would want them to stop but I would also want them to stay alive long enough so they could have a chance at stopping. That’s what this does.”

The community consultation gave the 60 or so residents in attendance a rundown of why the CTCHC was chosen by the city, mainly due to the 20 years of experience in harm reduction the Queen West location has, and the fact that it’s responding to an existing need already, said David McKeown, the medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health.

Residents also had the opportunity to voice concerns, which were of general safety and the unsettling proximity the SIS would be to St. Mary Elementary School.

“I understand the concerns around public safety, (the community) will wonder if this will have a honey pot effect in terms of attracting drug dealers because folks who are users have a space to use, and will it attract petty crime,” Robertson said.

“Their concerns are legitimate. But it’s our responsibility to work with communities and look at how we can coexist. How can we provide a service that responds to one part of the community while also addressing the concerns that other parts of our community have as well.”

The decision to put the SIS at the Bathurst Street location has not been finalized. A report by Toronto Public Health still needs to be brought before council in July and from there it needs approval from the federal minister of health, who grants an exemption to allow these services to operate.

If the exemption is granted the sites could be up and running as early as 2017, said Cressy.

“I recognize completely that change can be hard,” he said.

“All the evidence I’ve seen about these services is not just about saving lives and public health, it actually increases public safety too and that’s a good thing for the neighbourhood.”