Pubdate: Tue, 15 Mar 2016
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Jenny Yuen
Page: 8


City had to boost cop presence after injection sites opened in '03

The union head for Vancouver's cops has some advice for Toronto as it
looks at setting up three safe-injection sites: Prepare to beef up the
city's police resources.

Tom Stamatakis, president of the Vancouver Police Union, said upwards
of 90 officers were initially deployed when InSite, the first
supervised injection site in Vancouver, opened in 2003. While that
number has been whittled down over the years, there are "extra
resources" deployed in the city's Downtown Eastside, where the clinic
is located.

"The reality is if Toronto decides from a public health perspective to
house their own safe-injection sites, then that's an issue for the
local health authority to decide," Stamatakis said. "But there is a
public safety implication and that has to be part of the discussion.
There is a tremendous amount of crime in the area where the facility
is located. Lots of activity related to drug use, property crime, assaults."

David McKeown, Toronto's chief medical officer of health, on Monday
recommended the creation of three supervised injection sites: In "The
Works" centre within the Toronto Public Health building on Victoria
St.; the Queen West Central Toronto Community Health Centre, at Queen
and Bathurst Sts.; and the South Riverdale Community Health Centre,
near Queen St. and Carlaw Ave.

Vancouver Police insist InSite has been a positive addition to the

"It has saved lives," Sgt. Randy Fincham said. "It would be very
difficult to associate a rise or fall in crime rates as a result of
that building. There have been a number of changes in that
neighbourhood in the last 13 years, so there are a lot of factors that
would play into that."

Conservative MP Kellie Leitch - her party's health critic - expressed
concern about what the Toronto proposal will mean for law-abiding residents.

"The drugs that are used at these sites, mostly heroin, are dangerous
and addictive," she said.

Members of Toronto's health board will address the proposal next
Monday before the start of a lengthy public consultation process,
which is required for federal approval for the plan.

The plan also requires provincial and city funding.

However, whether residents and local businesses like it or not,
"public consent is not a feature of federal approval," McKeown noted.

The Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Association - in the same
catchment zone as "The Works" centre - said while supportive of
safe-injection sites, it wants to ensure that that neighbourhood is
the best spot for the centre.
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