Residents Stand up For Safe Injection Site in Windsor

Save CTS Rally

Residents Stand up For Safe Injection Site in Windsor – Susan Gold

Organized in just two days, the people of Windsor came out in force to respond to a motion at City Council to rescind it’s support for the establishment of a Safe Injection Site (SIS) Centre at a specific site in the Downtown core. The motion called for withdrawal of support for the proposed location and for the city administration and local health unit to come up with a different location.

Over a hundred people came out of the concern that a stalling of the establishment of the site would mean it would just not be built and would leave people who need it at a risk of death.

According to Health Canada, the sites provide “a safe, clean space for people to bring their own drugs to use, in the presence of trained staff.” At a site:

a person brings their drugs to a site to consume
depending on the site, drugs are injected, snorted, inhaled or consumed as pills
trained staff are available to help if there is an accidental overdose
needs of the community determine hours of operation for sites and types of services provided
type of staff varies by site, but generally includes nursing staff, social workers and peer and community workers

One speaker reminded everyone of the over 480 deaths due to overdosing in Windsor in the last few years and made the comparison of 4 times the number of people that had gathered for the Rally. Windsor has declared it an emergency situation. The signs at the rally highlighted the urgency of the need.

As with other rallies, a great deal of information was revealed about the issue, about how the City Council operates, and about the organizations that fight everyday for the benefit of people who were present.

The organizers had planned well and had made numbers of signs for people to take. The impassioned speakers were from clergy, youth centres, woman help centres, Downtown business owners from the streets that surround the site, who had never been consulted, and teachers, one from an alternative school working with vulnerable students.

A criminal lawyer spoke about the inequity in the law involving crimes where drug use is a factor compared to alcohol use. Several people spoke about the bias against those who use drugs. A woman who ran a women’s help centre with only 10 spaces spoke about the levels and variety of support needed. She spoke against the notion that a treatment centre is more needed than a safe injection site. Many levels of treatment and a variety of supports are needed, because there are not enough places for everyone who requires help.

The motion to create the site followed an extensive survey to determine need and placement of Safe Injection Sites.

As a result of the peoples intervention and mobilization the motion was withdrawn and a new one will be put forward in coming weeks which would maintain support for the facility at the site chosen while another location will be sought for the longer-term. The facility now requires approval and funding from provincial and federal levels of government.