Pubdate: Thu, 07 Dec 2017
Source: Cambridge Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland
Author: Adam Jackson


Cambridge resident Cindy Watson wants the Region of Waterloo to put
the brakes on the proposed use of safe injection sites.

During the region's community services committee Tuesday, Watson spoke
in front of councillors asking them to think hard before moving
forward with safe injection sites.

"You will be making one of the most important decisions of your
career," said Watson. "Don't be pressured into using a broken model …
the model itself is broken."

Watson said harm reduction is needed, but needs to be balanced with
public safety and livelihood of downtown cores.

The region is in the midst of a feasibility study that will determine
potential locations and the general need for safe injection sites in
Waterloo Region. An update, where council will be asked whether it
wants to continue with the process, will be presented to committee in
early 2018. If council moves forward, the next steps will be taken by
staff. A final report is expected in the spring, where council will
decide whether to institute the safe injection site program.

"I care about people who are addicted to drugs and I'm not alone,"
said Watson in an impassioned speech to the committee. "They are
people first and foremost and they need our help."

Coun. Sue Foxton, mayor of North Dumfries, told Watson the region is
not making a knee-jerk decision about the safe injection sites. On
Tuesday, before Watson presented, several members of the community
organizations, as well as public health and police, spoke to the
committee about a comprehensive approach to the regional opioid issue.

Watson said people who speak out against safe injection sites are seen
as selfish, but the rest of the community needs an advocate.

Watson added the needle exchange program should be called the "needle
giveaway program" because there is no incentive for users to return

"We're asking you to investigate the needle giveaway program,
specifically in Cambridge," said Watson.

Watson attended a consultation with regional staff and said all the
information was slanted in favour of developing the sites.

"From the beginning, I was under the impression that this was a done
deal," said Watson. "There hasn't been a lot of information about the
disadvantages. It is your responsibility as a council to provide
residents with both the advantages and disadvantages."

Regional chair Ken Seiling asked Watson if she had a better

"Are you suggesting that staff is not doing that adequately?" asked

Watson said she is hoping the committee would get together and discuss
all possible options.

Watson, a Waterloo Region District School Board trustee, has a motion
pending to have naloxone kits in all regional public schools. She adds
she is concerned about the impact that supervised injection sites will
have on nearby schools.

Dan Clements, from the grassroots group For A Better Cambridge, also
spoke in front of council, asking them not to move forward with the

Alan Dyck, a Galt resident, further spoke against the safe injection
sites. He said he's concerned more so about the behaviour near safe
injection sites.

"They will be smiling while police watch them," said Dyck, adding that
safe injection sites would open opportunities for dealers.

Dyck, a high school teacher, said worries about the "normalization" of
drug use, particularly with young people.

"We can do better than that and we can start doing better than that
right now."

So far in 2017, there have been 613 paramedic calls to overdose
victims in Waterloo Region. An estimated 65 people have died from
overdoses this year - 27 in Cambridge, 29 in Kitchener, and nine in
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt