The Barton Street community cleanup highlights the need for a second location for safe consumption in Hamilton – Hamilton | Pro IQRA News

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Advocates for Safe Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) in Barton Street East held a “community cleanup” event to show why a safe place for people to use drugs is needed.

Volunteers with Hamilton’s SWAP (Sex Worker Action Program) and AIDS Network took to the streets Thursday morning with gloves and buckets to collect trash, used needles and other hazards.

Jelena Vermillion, executive director of SWAP Hamilton, said she wanted to organize the initiative to respond to those who oppose the idea of ​​creating a CTS site on Barton and let them know that there are better ways to improve the neighborhood for all residents — including those who use drugs.

“It’s not just about complaining about injections or litter in the neighborhood, but actually doing something about it.”

She said the likelihood of discarded needles and other hazards on the streets would be reduced if drug users had a place to dispose of them properly and look after them in case they overdose.

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“We have to create a community where everyone, including those who struggle and those who aren’t comfortable watching, belong to our community as well.”

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The first CTS site was approved in Hamilton in March 2019 and is operated by the Hamilton Urban Core Center for Community Health within the heart of downtown, although it is expected to have a permanent home on Cannon Street in September 2023.

Last fall, council members approved the city’s second permanent CTS site at 746 East Barton Street.

The AIDS Network is applying to the Ministry of Health to be able to operate the site, which will also offer a “comprehensive health and wellness package.”

There have been outspoken opponents of the site’s location, including the local Hamilton Wentworth Catholic School Board, who noted its proximity to St. Ann’s Catholic Primary School.

The topic was also front and center in the Ward 3 candidate’s debate over Cable 14, where business owner Walter Furlan said he’s not opposed to the concept of a CTS site — just that specific site, which is directly across the street from his site. Business.

“You have multiple day care centers, multiple elementary schools, and you have a special needs facility right next to where he’s supposed to go.”

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“Everyone in this city would love to be outside their wards,” Forlan said later in the debate. “Let’s spread it evenly, and take the pressure off our wing.”

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Ward 3 Council member Nrinder Nann noted that Hamilton’s opioid epidemic is worsening, with medics responding to 87 opioid-related overdose in August, compared to an average of 76 per month in 2021 and 47 months in 2020.

“As a council, we made the decision to support increasing the amount of consumption processing services across the city,” she said.

“Hamilton residents deserve life-saving health support and services, and it is unfortunate that it has become a debate about location and pitting one vulnerable group against another.”

Candidate Laura Farr said residents were concerned about the fact that the Urban Core CTS site would move to Cannon Street in Suite 3 in 2023 due to a perceived lack of communication from the city side.

I suggested that there should be more public participation so that residents understand what CTS sites actually do and acknowledge that no site is perfect that makes everyone happy.

“They need to be somewhere and we can’t argue about all over the place because there’s not going to be a Goldilocks spot to put any of them and we need them. So in the end, yes, there are two suggested [sites] for Suite 3 but we can’t just say we don’t want it in our backyard.”

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Fellow candidate Stan Kruchka said he supports the CTS sites but believes more needs to be done to prevent them from being ever needed through rehab programs and other addiction supports.

“We need to start taking care of these people. They are Hamiltonians, they are our neighbours, and they need our help.”

Vermilion said she knew that not everyone would be supportive of CTS in their area, but simply said that challenging its existence wouldn’t solve the problem.

Ultimately, harm reduction is not just about stopping drug use. It’s about using drugs in a more dignified and safe way. So using clean tools, using new, uncontaminated tools, and using in a place where if you overdose, you have someone who can respond to that in a medically appropriate way.”

About two dozen people took part in the cleanup Thursday morning, and Vermilion said it hopes there will be more to come.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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