Pubdate: Tue, 21 Jun 2016
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Page: 16
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Jenny Yuen


Community meeting held

Lily Lin doesn't want a safe injection site opening in Queen West. 
But she says residents are afraid to speak out against them.

Lin was among a group of 80 people who went attended the second 
community consultation meeting on placing a safe injection site in the area.

"A lot of people are too afraid to speak out," she said, following 
the two-hour meeting Monday night at Trinity Community Recreation 
Centre on Crawford St. "We've only had two consultations and now (the 
issue) is going to be closed."

Lin said her main concern is a homeless youth mission is set to move 
to the Queen West area from Yonge St. in 2017 and she fears it will 
add "to the complexity of the area."

"It's going to affect the economy," she said. "There will be even 
more needles in the neighbourhood. If you get (homeless) people 
housing, they'll turn it into a crack house."

Dr. David McKeown, the city's chief medical officer of health, 
pitched the idea of three safe injection sites in the city back in March.

The sites - slated for Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health 
Centre near Queen and Bathurst Sts., Toronto Public Health's The 
Works centre near Yonge-Dundas Square, and South Riverdale Community 
Health Centre in the Pape Ave. and Queen St. area - are applying for 
federal exemptions to operate nurse supervised injection services.

They also require funding from Queen's Park, but both need city 
council approval before the application, likely in the fall.

"This issue has been plaguing this community," Spadina-Fort York MP 
Adam Vaughan said. "(The federal government) is looking at this - of 
getting people to the finish line."

McKeown, along with Councillor Joe Cressy - who heads the city's drug 
strategy task force, is pushing for the sites after the number of 
Toronto's overdose deaths hit 206 in 2013 - a 41% increase over a decade.

"I think preventing overdose deaths should be the priority of the 
city," Cressy said at the meeting. "It speaks to the neighbourhood we are."

Many who approached the podium supported the plan, including Leigh 
Chapman, 43, whose brother died from a drug overdose in August after 
using The Works' harm reduction program for 15 years.

"I have no doubt if safe injection sites had been here last year, he 
would've been here today, and clean," she said.

The board of health will make its final recommendation in July and 
then the issue will go to council.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom