Injection Sites in Residential Neighbourhoods.

Last updated May 2015

In June, 2013, Toronto Public Health Department made a policy announcement regarding Safe Injection Sites, suggesting that they would be a solution to issues around unsafe needle use and disposal for the CIty of Toronto.
 
Although the report did not specifically mention neighbourhoods as possible locations for such sites, during a recent interview, Dr. Rita Shahin did indicate the Toronto East End as a possible location.
 
During recent neighbourhood cleanups of laneways and parks, we found little evidence of needle use in the area although there was some evidence of crack cocaine and cannabis use.  Many agencies already distribute crack pipes, condoms etc. to prevent the spread of disease in the area.

We were recently contacted on this issue once again by a group called Toronto Residents' Reference Panel on Supervised Injection Services has implemented a Toronto Public Roundtable Meeting on Supervised Injection Services to report on the issue.  A representative from our board attended the meeting but was not on the actual panel.   
We again stressed that we see little evidence of intravenous drug use in our neighburhood laneways and parks and school grounds. When we last met with 51 Division police officers we asked if there was a problem with intravenous drug use in the division and were advised that they too see little evidence.   Our stance is again that treatment for serious and risky substance abuse needs to be universal and operated out of hospital clinics. Not in residential or commercial neighbouhoods.
We have recently obtained an electronic copy of the final report by this group and recommend everyone make them selves familiar with the report.    We get the sense that the meetings were heavily influenced by those in social services and harm reduction fields, that does not reflect the broader view of the community. To read the report please click here.      
 
We wrote to Councilor Pam McConnell and MPP Glen Murray on the issue and did receive a response from Councillor McConnell.  It is our understanding that the issue of legalizing safe injection sites would involve provincial and federal legislation.  Here is our email to Pam and her response.  We will keep the neighbourhood informed of further any further announcements or changes to current policies.
    
July 5, 2013.
Dear Pam,
Our Association received an email request for an interview from CTV concerning Supervised Injection Sites. We were extremely unhappy to read that "Dr. Rita Shahin mentioned that Cabbagetown may be one of the neighbourhoods that the city is eyeing for a site."
 
This issue first came to our attention in 2009 and member input was solidly negative. And now, our 9-member board has discussed this issue again and we are absolutely opposed to an injection site being located anywhere in Cabbagetown, or Cabbagetown South. We have barely recovered from the threatened methadone clinic.
 
You have influence about the choice of a site. Our neighbourhood, your ward, is now home to some wonderful things, things that are rebalancing the neighbourhood: the redevelopment of Regent Park, the Aquatic Centre, the Pan Am Games, Corktown Common. Please use your influence to ensure that no injection site is located here.
 
Respectfully,
The Board, 
Cabbagetown South Residents' Association.

Here is Pam McConnell's letter back.
 
July 5, 2013
Hello all,
 
We too, heard the unfortunate interview on CBC by Dr. Shahin. 
 
To be very clear, Pam's position has not changed on Supervised Injection Sites.  If the federal and provincial governments were to amend their legislation and provide funding for such sites, Pam will never support a SIS in a non-clinical setting, and they should not be located in neighbourhoods anywhere in the City.  On the other hand, an annex within a hospital, or the Victoria street Public Health office would be acceptable.
 
We believe that the interviewer pushed Dr. Shahin to mention a few neighbourhoods and she then mentioned some, including Cabbagetown.  I wouldn't read anything more into it than that. 
 
I want to ensure you that the report before the Board of Health does not mention any neighbourhoods, and certainly not Cabbagetown in terms of a recommendation.  I would imagine that we are still a long way off from having a discussion about specific sites, and even then it would be reliant on the federal and provincial governments enacting legislation, which they don't seem in a hurry to do. 
 
Pam has written the Medical Officer of Health to express her disappointment in the interview as well as to reiterate her position on the matter.
 
I hope this is helpful, and I would be pleased to answer any further questions you may have.
 
Sean
Sean McIntyre
Constituency Assistant to
Councillor Pam McConnell
E-mail: smcinty@toronto.ca
Phone: (416) 392-0207

Pam has written the Medical Officer of Health to express her disappointment in the interview as well as to reiterate her position on the matter.E-mail: smcinty@toronto.ca
Phone: (416) 392-0207

    

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