Calls To Action

Final Push: Encourage your Councillor to Say YES to Barrie's SCS Monday night!

At last week's General Committee, Council voted 8-2 to support the CMHA's & SMDHU's application for a Supervised Consumption Site at 11 Innisfil. This Monday (May 31), this motion will go in front of City Council for a final vote, so the applicants can take this proposal to the Province. The link to watch is here.

Last week's vote was as follows:
Mayor Lehman - forCouncillor Riepma - forCouncillor Aylwin - forCouncillor Kungl - forDeputy Mayor Ward - forCouncillor Thomson - forCouncillor N.Harris - forCouncillor Harvey - againstCouncillor J.Harris - abstained, declaring pecuniary interestCouncillor Morales - forCouncillor McCann - against
This is the final push to encourage your Councillor to vote Yes to Barrie's SCS on Monday night! Contact information is here, or you can email [email protected] to automatically send your message to all members of Council.

Thank you, everyone, for your support in bringing a Supervised Consumption Site to Downtown Barrie!

Sign the Petition: "Say YES to Barrie's SCS"

Sign our Change.org petition to Barrie City Council, calling on them to stop the delays, and endorse the CMHA & SMDHU's application for a Supervised Consumption Site in downtown Barrie, before any more lives are lost.

Sign the UserVoice, calling on the resignation of BIA Chair Rob Hamilton

Rob Hamilton's classist and racist words are against the Code of Conduct he is expected to hold himself to. His reprehensible comments must be acted upon. City Council must remove him from the Board of the Downtown BIA.

Please visit the CBC Story to read more, and watch the video of his speech, then sign the UserVoice Petition

We have been made aware that on February 6, 2021, the Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA) launched a website, co-opting our name to put out messaging that goes against both our position on the SCS and our position paper on public engagement.

Thank you to all who alerted us to the mis-use of our name and identity.

Our position on supporting a downtown Supervised Consumption Site remains the same as when Engage was founded in 2019. Please continue to follow our SCS-related sites in the red tab above, for our true position.

Downtown Businesses / Residents / Visitors, visit VoicesOfDowntown.com

Add your business or organization to our list of Downtown SCS supporters, request a window sign, send an email to City Council, and learn more at www.voicesofdowntown.com

News & Updates

Events

2021-02-15 - Barrie Toxic Drug Crisis Vigil – (VIDEO)

Supervised Consumption Saves Lives - Barrie and Engage Barrie hosted a virtual vigil, to mourn our friends, partners, children and neighbours lost to this ongoing toxic drug crisis. A recording of the event is available at https://fb.watch/3I3bWPaeOf/

2020-11-26 - Seeking to Reduce Harm: Politics, Harm Reduction and Supervised Consumption (VIDEO)

Shining Waters Regional Council presented this Zoom conversation with Toronto City Councillor Joe Cressy and Barrie City Councillor Ann-Marie Kungl, as they discussed harm reduction, supervised consumption and the toxic drug crisis in Toronto and Barrie, archived at https://youtu.be/AOL39c1YIgY

2020-11-25 - Seeking to Reduce Harm: A Conversation with Benjamin Perrin – (VIDEO)

Shining Waters Regional Council presented this Zoom conversation with Benjamin Perrin, author of Overdose: Heartbreak and Hope in Canada's Opioid Crisis, archived at https://youtu.be/Sen13YXC_E0

Updates

2021-04-26 – Open Letter to Council re: Integrity Commissioner's Report on the BIA Chair

Dear Mayor and Council

Supervised Consumption Saves Lives - Barrie is a sub-group of Engage Barrie, with 63 active core members, and almost 800 followers across our social media platforms.

We are writing in support of the Integrity Commissioner’s report on Rob Hamilton’s racist and derogatory language against the potential clients of a Supervised Consumption Site, un-housed people, and those with mental health and/or substance use challenges. We trust that you will respect Ms. Craig’s findings and her recommendations, and vote to accept her recommended reprimand and remedial actions.

We further request that not only Mr. Hamilton, but all BIA Board members and staff receive the recommended training on addiction as a mental illness and human rights training, as well as ongoing anti-oppression training. One class has shown to have little effect on changing deep-seated attitudes – evidence makes it clear that regular training is required to make any significant impact.

While Mr. Hamilton’s language and attitudes in the referenced September BIA meeting were reprehensible, it has been made clear to us (from that meeting and others) that there is a culture within the BIA that is both tolerant of anti-science rhetoric, and intolerant of many of the people in our downtown core. The following are just a few examples:

In the full recording of the September meeting, Vice Chair Jason Ing and several other directors can be heard uttering similarly derogatory things about drug users, even if their language wasn’t as abhorrent as his – attitudes and language they’ve since chosen to hide from the public by going in camera (without valid reason) whenever they’ve wished to discuss the SCS.Not one of the Board members spoke up against the language use in the meeting (although Secretary Michelle Huggins appeared distressed).As far as we are aware, the only Board member (including the two Council representatives, Morales and Harris, who should have a full understanding of the City’s Code of Conduct) to make a complaint after the meeting was Randy Aylwin – whose concerns were dismissed.Once the story and video was reported on by the CBC earlier this year, there were several of our members, as well as Engage Barrie and BIA members, who called the BIA office to express their concerns – these complaints were met with comments such as “oh, that’s just how he is”, and their complaints were also ignored.Apart from the SCS issue, in the September video, and every meeting since, you can clearly see that several Board members are sitting in an office together, without using masks or proper social distancing, thus contravening all COVID safety guidelines issued by the Province and our local Health Unit.Despite several downtown businesses having to shut down to protect staff from the anti-mask “freedom rallies” at Meridian Place, and many calls for the BIA to make a statement, they instead sent out a press release this Friday about the “both positive and negative” effects of these gatherings. This despite the fact that confirmed speakers for this weekend included MP Derek Sloan (expelled from caucus after accepting a donation from a known white nationalist), and Dave Bjorkman (who has ties to neo-Nazi / white nationalist organization The Soldiers of Odin). This essentially “good people on both sides” press release makes it difficult to believe the sincerity of Hamilton’s apology for racist comments, but also makes us question why nobody on the Board or staff thought twice before releasing it three days before his racist comments went before Council.
As one of the City of Barrie’s local boards, it is imperative that all of the BIA’s staff and Directors are able to uphold not just the City’s Code of Conduct and Human Rights Law, but also the Strategic Priorities of “fostering a safe and healthy city”, and “supporting a vibrant and safe downtown”. The way the BIA is currently operating, we don’t see how that is possible without insisting on ongoing anti-oppression training, as well as a retraining in the Code of Conduct and Strategic Priorities.

Yes, Mr. Hamilton’s words, attitudes and behaviour in that September meeting were indeed offensive. But the way that they have shaped the current Board and staff decisions have also been damaging. It is these attitudes, as well as willfully ignoring evidence-based science and practise that has fuelled the BIA’s response to the CMHA & SMDHU’s application for an SCS in the downtown core, where it is needed the most.

The way the BIA Board is currently acting is becoming a distraction from their role in advocating for the downtown businesses. That advocacy is needed, with the pressures faced on them from the lockdowns. They need to return to their mandate, and allow the Health Unit to continue with theirs.

A gateway to a healthy, vibrant community in Barrie is built not on hate and fear, but on the pillars of inclusivity and diversity, science and compassion.

Sincerely,
Supervised Consumption Saves Lives - Barrie

2021-04-01 – Neighbourhood Consultation Sessions re: SCS Site Options

Simcoe Muskoka Health is inviting the public to participate in a virtual (online) neighbourhood consultation, to give feedback on how the four proposed Supervised Consumption Service (SCS) locations can best meet the needs of the clients using the services and the surrounding residential and business community. Please visit their Neighbourhood Consultation Sessions page to sign up for ONE of:

Friday, April 9 (10am-12pm)Wednesday, April 14 (3-5pm)Thursday, April 15 (5-7pm), orMonday, April 19 (6-8pm).
You will be asked at sign-up to select ONE site you wish to discuss in-depth (although participants will be given a chance to give feedback on all 4, there will also be "breakout groups" set up for feedback on each potential site).

The four locations under consideration are:

110 Dunlop St. W., Unit 411 Sophia St. W.19 Innisfil St. (previously referred to as 80 Bradford St., Unit 940)192 Bradford St.
The criteria for site selection (from Ministry of Health’s application criteria, plus Site Selection Committee additions) include:
Proximity to clients – i.e., walking distance (1km) from where open drug use is known to occur, and easily accessible by public transit (boundary map here)Wrap-around, mandatory services (i.e., onsite or nearby access to addictions treatment, mental health, primary care, and social services)Sensitive land uses (proximity to child care centers, parks, schools)Must include service intake, consumption, post-consumption, and other mandatory service areas, hand hygiene sink and foot wash station, and accessible washroomsLandlord approval and financially viable
In light of those application requirements in place, here are some of the pros and cons we’ve come up with for each, after speaking with members of the community. (If you know of more, please get in touch and we can add them to the list.)

110 Dunlop St. W., Unit 4
Pros
In the "red zone" of the site selection boundary (i.e., meeting the requirements to be in an area of highest need, based on mortality and morbidity data), yet removed from core of downtown businesseswrap-around services – surrounded by Canadian Mental Health Association, Canadian Addiction Treatment Pharmacy, Mental Health & Addiction Services of Simcoe County, plus numerous medical and dental serviceseasily accessible by public transitnot near any schoolsnot in a primarily residential arearear entrance to building (added privacy for clients)space can accommodate multiple uses – room to growother businesses in building support the SCS (e.g., DRORS endorsement on www.voicesofdowntown.com)kitty-corner to the McDonalds, which has become an unofficial injection sitecan help address many of the downtown businesses' concerns (needle disposal, public drug use, etc.)Cons
BIA previously indicated they will not support this site
11 Sophia St. W.
Pros
Location is within “red zone” (although at edge)Not in the main shopping district of downtown, so likely less of a fight from the BIAMore housing is about to be built close by, several rooming houses nearby, not far from Queen’s Park, so reasonably accessibleProperty has its own yard, so could use outdoors for inhalation (which wouldn’t be possible in any of the other sites, without expensive ventilation renovations) -- also the therapeutic effect of having a nice outdoor spaceLots of potential for the building -- layout allows for renovations and modifications in the futureCons
No space for a kitchenette, or foot care room in current configuration (but there are 3 bedrooms on the second level currently leased for a year -- may be room to expand)Land is on an incline, which may be difficult for people to walk to if they have mobility issues.Second floor (where the 3 bedrooms are) is currently inaccessible outside of stairs, would not be feasible to put in an elevator or ramp in this building to 2nd floor.
19 Innisfil St., Unit 940 (previously identified as 80 Bradford St.)
Pros
Wrap-around services nearbyOpen space, customizableVery close to Milligan’s PondCons
80 Bradford would have been (barely) within search boundaries, however the actual entrance off 19 Innisfil is outside the site selection boundaries -- and likely too far west to be easily accessible for the immediate needsOnly one entrance (two needed)Would have to be renovated to meet accessibility needsUnit is only connected from Innisfil Street, on 2nd floor -- in order to reach the other services, they would have to go outside and walk around the block to the front entrance.Very expensiveOnly a one-year lease, so precarious tenancy -- condos about to be build directly across the street, so there may be pressure to sell or not renew lease after first yearBuilding maintenance and security staff have been increasingly hostile to homeless in the building. Owner has previously refused to allow the Busby van to stop at any of his properties, believed to have previously been opposed to an SCS in the building.Proximity to those using services for suboxone or methadone could be problematic -- “pinching the line between two very important things for people who are not ready for treatment and people in treatment”Neighbour has already taken out a petition and media articles against supportive housing in the neighbourhood -- hostile surroundings in area already.
192 Bradford St.
Pros
A very nice spaceCons
Outside of required boundaryToo far away from existing need, people not likely to walk that far to use itDoes not meet “wrap-around services” requirement, as there are no services nearby
Again, though, our bottom line is that Barrie needs this life-saving service in place right away, and we will support whatever the experts at the CMHA and SMDHU decide best fits the criteria for their application. You can get updates on the site selection and application process at the SMDHU’s website

If you haven’t already, please sign our petition to council (to support a Supervised Consumption Site in Barrie) at http://chng.it/4SYcKFVHvz

2021-03-19 – Community Survey re: Additional SCS Site Options (Due March 31)

A number of people have been getting in touch with us about the Site Selection Survey for the proposed Supervised Consumption Site, and wanting to know our opinion on which site is best. Our answer, of course, is whatever the Health Unit deems best! But we’re happy to walk through some of the issues with each, as they pertain to the province’s requirements for Barrie’s SCS application. The SMDHU has compiled quite a bit of information as well, which we’ve linked to below.

First of all, PLEASE DO fill out the new survey, which closes March 31 -- this will help the Health Department better understand the pros and cons for each site. The three new sites on the survey are:

11 Sophia St. W.19 Innisfil St., Unit 940 (previously referred to as 80 Bradford St.)192 Bradford St.
These three are in addition to the previously-shortlisted site at 110 Dunlop St. W., Unit 4 (back of building). The Toronto St. location was removed from the list after the previous community consultation.

The criteria for site selection (from Ministry of Health’s application criteria, plus Site Selection Committee additions) include:
Proximity to clients – i.e., walking distance (1km) from where open drug use is known to occur, and easily accessible by public transit (boundary map here)Wrap-around, mandatory services (i.e., onsite or nearby access to addictions treatment, mental health, primary care, and social services)Sensitive land uses (proximity to child care centers, parks, schools)Must include service intake, consumption, post-consumption, and other mandatory service areas, hand hygiene sink and foot wash station, and accessible washroomsLandlord approval and financially viable
In light of those application requirements in place, here are some of the pros and cons we’ve come up with for each, after speaking with members of the community. (If you know of more, please get in touch and we can add them to the list.)

11 Sophia St. W.
Pros
Location is within “red zone” (although at edge)Not in the main shopping district of downtown, so likely less of a fight from the BIAMore housing is about to be built close by, several rooming houses nearby, not far from Queen’s Park, so reasonably accessibleProperty has its own yard, so could use outdoors for inhalation (which wouldn’t be possible in any of the other sites, without expensive ventilation renovations) -- also the therapeutic effect of having a nice outdoor spaceLots of potential for the building -- layout allows for renovations and modifications in the futureCons
No space for a kitchenette, or foot care room in current configuration (but there are 3 bedrooms on the second level currently leased for a year -- may be room to expand)Land is on an incline, which may be difficult for people to walk to if they have mobility issues.Second floor (where the 3 bedrooms are) is currently inaccessible outside of stairs, would not be feasible to put in an elevator or ramp in this building to 2nd floor.
19 Innisfil St., Unit 940 (previously identified as 80 Bradford St.)
Pros
Wrap-around services nearbyOpen space, customizableVery close to Milligan’s PondCons
80 Bradford would have been (barely) within search boundaries, however the actual entrance off 19 Innisfil is outside the site selection boundaries -- and likely too far west to be easily accessible for the immediate needsOnly one entrance (two needed)Would have to be renovated to meet accessibility needsUnit is only connected from Innisfil Street, on 2nd floor -- in order to reach the other services, they would have to go outside and walk around the block to the front entrance.Very expensiveOnly a one-year lease, so precarious tenancy -- condos about to be build directly across the street, so there may be pressure to sell or not renew lease after first yearBuilding maintenance and security staff have been increasingly hostile to homeless in the building. Owner has previously refused to allow the Busby van to stop at any of his properties, believed to have previously been opposed to an SCS in the building.Proximity to those using services for suboxone or methadone could be problematic -- “pinching the line between two very important things for people who are not ready for treatment and people in treatment”Neighbour has already taken out a petition and media articles against supportive housing in the neighbourhood -- hostile surroundings in area already.
192 Bradford St.
Pros
A very nice spaceCons
Outside of required boundaryToo far away from existing need, people not likely to walk that far to use it
Does not meet “wrap-around services” requirement, as there are no services nearby
Again, though, our bottom line is that Barrie needs this life-saving service in place right away, and we will support whatever the experts at the CMHA and SMDHU decide best fits the criteria for their application. You can get updates on the site selection and application process at the SMDHU’s website

If you haven’t already, please sign our petition to council (to support a Supervised Consumption Site in Barrie) at http://chng.it/4SYcKFVHvz

And don’t forget to fill in the SMDHU’s survey at https://s-ca.chkmkt.com/?e=221256&h=18E3161236B6D2B&l=en by Wednesday, March 31 at 5pm!

In the News

  • 2021-02-14 – Barrie Community Media: Downtown Business on Supervised Consumption Sites: Bohemia Cafe – Many local businesses say the Downtown BIA seems to be ignoring their voices in the conversation around an SCS service in downtown Barrie. For Jill Dyck, the owner of Bohemia, a coffee shop on Dunlop St., the need for an SCS is clear. She agrees with health experts who say supervised consumption sites are known to keep drug use off the streets. What isn't clear, she says, is why business owners and big name developers get a say in how our city handles an urgent health crisis that is causing the deaths of downtown Barrie residents. Watch the interview here.

  • 2021-02-13 – Barrie Today: BIA chairman apologizes for 'inappropriate' comments about SCS users – "Not only were these comments uneducated, they were also classist and derogatory. He must resign," said Michael Speers. "Feigning concern at this point is insulting, especially coming from someone who profited from operating a supervised consumption site for alcohol in downtown Barrie for years." "The BIA has delayed this process for too long, and countless people have died as a result. The failure of Mr. Hamilton and the BIA to recognize the urgent need for a supervised consumption site in downtown Barrie demonstrates their unwillingness to listen to the experts. It's also a deliberate effort to put their own interests ahead of the interests of those who may benefit from this life-saving health service."

  • 2021-02-12 – Barrie Advance: Downtown Barrie safe consumption site supporters rally after video of BIA chairperson's criticisms surfaces – A citizens group supporting a safe consumption site in downtown Barrie for residents suffering from opioid addiction is ramping up its battle with the BIA, which officially opposes a downtown location. The group’s efforts appear to be buoyed by a video obtained by Simcoe.com that shows BIA chairperson Rob Hamilton saying those with substance abuse are creating a poor image for the shopping area. “I talk to my friends and they say, 'You gotta get rid of those people,'” said Hamilton, a former mayor. “They’re not productive, contributing citizens.… They are yelling and screaming. It’s not tenable. It’s a collision of two worlds.” Full story: https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/10330642-downtown-barrie-safe-consumption-site-supporters-rally-after-video-of-bia-chairperson-s-criticisms-surfaces/

  • 2021-02-11 – CBC Investigates: Mom who lost son to tainted drugs disgusted by business-led push to move potential supervised consumption site – A Barrie mother whose son died from consuming tainted drugs says she was disgusted to discover the city's business leaders are paying $28,000 to a lobbying firm to have a proposed supervised consumption site moved away from the downtown area. That anger deepened after watching video (included) of the Downtown Barrie Business Improvement Area's chair – a former mayor of the city – calling drug users not "productive, contributing" citizens. Full story: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/barrie-battle-over-supervised-consumption-site-1.5908686

  • 2021-02-03 – Barrie Community Media: At Issue: CMHA on Barrie's toxic drug supply crisis – BCM speaks with representatives from the Canadian Mental Health Association about the CMHA's services for those living with opioid addiction, as well as how misunderstanding and stigma amplify the crisis. Watch the interview here.

  • 2021-02-01 – Barrie Advance: Barrie citizens wage uphill battle in fight for downtown supervised consumption site – Rick Vanderlinde interviews Holly McDaniel and Christine Naylor from Supervised Consumption Saves Lives - Barrie, about the group's support for the Health Unit's application for a supervised consumption site, and the resistance being encountered from the downtown BIA. Full story: https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/10318304-barrie-citizens-wage-uphill-battle-in-fight-for-downtown-supervised-consumption-site/

  • 2021-01-24 – Barrie Today: My son was a person – not a number, not a statistic – Barrie mom hopes to educate others on the dangers of illicit drugs and the need for an SCS in the city.

  • 2021-01-20 – Barrie Today: Group pushing for safe injection site in dowBarrie launches petition – Supervised Consumption Saves Lives - Barrie is a newly-formed organization in Barrie. SCSL-B has launched a petition and is hoping to be the voice for people who support a supervised consumption site for drug users in the city.

  • 2021-01-17 – Barrie Community Media: At Issue: Barrie's Opioid Crisis, Part 1 – BCM begins coverage of Barrie's opioid crisis with three interviews: Christine Nayler tells the story of her son Ryan, who died form the toxic drug supply, after living with severe mental health conditions. Mia Brown, manager of the SMDHU, explains details of a supervised consumption site – a service that may have saved Ryan's life. Councillor Keenan Aylwin dives into the conversation around opioids and a supervised consumption site in his neighbourhood. Watch the interview here.

  • 2020-12-29 – Barrie Today: Search for safe injection site continues, but BIA doesn't want it near downtown – "At the end of the day, it's the city council members who make the decision whether they endorse the site that we propose" says health official.

  • 2020-10-07 – Barrie Advance: "The opioid crisis has not abated": List of potential Barrie supervised drug-consumption sites narrowed to two – The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit announced the list of potential locations for a Barrie supervised drug-consumption site. Now it's time to begin the public consultation stage on each proposed site. Full story: https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/10218400--the-opioid-crisis-has-not-abated-list-of-potential-barrie-supervised-drug-consumption-sites-narrowed-to-two/

People over Partisanship
Say "Yes" to SCS

The Canadian Mental Health Association and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit have been working hard to get a Supervised Consumption Site in Barrie – a city whose already-devastating opioid crisis has increased further under COVID. Since bringing their proposal before City Council in May, 2019, they have been met with roadblocks which continue to stall the provision of this life-saving heath service.

Since City Council’s delay of this application, almost 150 people in the region have died from opioid poisoning (the number of deaths from September through December has not yet been confirmed — the number is likely closer to 190 (Source).

A new Site Selection Advisory Committee was created in September, 2019, and after much research and consultation, two potential sites were found that met all Federal, Provincial and local criteria, and announced in October 2020. Unfortunately, it appears that their proposals are set to hit the same opposition from certain members of Council, despite the applicants providing them all the requested information, research, community engagement and other processes in good faith.

City Council is not entitled to vote on any other health care service the CMHA, SMDHU or any other medical organization provides. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, City Hall has implored residents to respect the expertise and follow the SMDHU’s guidance -- they need to respect and follow our Health Unit’s expertise and guidance on our opioid crisis as well. Politicians should not be blocking residents’ access to life-saving health care services.

Please raise your voices (contacts below), and get Engaged!

Barrie's Opioid Crisis

The City of Barrie is an epicentre of Canada’s opioid crisis — our 2019 rate of emergency department visits for opioid poisoning was 2.5 times the provincial rate, spiking to almost 8.5 times that rate in our city core. From 2017-19, Barrie accounted for 45% of the opioid-related deaths in Simcoe County, despite having only 28% of the population. Preliminary data shows that there were 83 confirmed and probable opioid-related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka for the first eight months of 2020, which was 51% higher than the average of 5 deaths from January to August for the previous three years. (The numbers for September through December await confirmation.) Source

As the numbers above show clearly, the community in our city core is especially struggling from this health crisis — which affects not just the people who use drugs and their loved ones, but also the health and welfare of first responders, business owners, and the community at large.

The Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy (SMOS) needs City Hall’s assistance to implement an important part of its Harm Reduction strategy: the creation of a Supervised Consumption Site (SCS) in the Barrie neighbourhood worst hit by this health crisis, our city core. This life-saving health service needs to be made available and accessible to our residents immediately, before we needlessly lose any more lives.

Supervised Consumption Sites Infographic

Why Say "YES" to Barrie's SCS?

Why a Supervised Consumption Site?

As written by Health Canada, “Supervised consumption sites and services save lives and benefit communities. They provide a safe, clean space for people to bring their own drugs to use, in the presence of trained staff. This prevents accidental overdoses and reduces the spread of infectious diseases, such as HIV. Supervised consumption sites may offer a range of evidence-based harm reduction services, such as drug checking. The sites also provide access to important health and social services, including substance use treatment for those who are ready.”

"Canadian and international evidence show clearly that supervised consumption sites and services help to save lives, connect people to social services and serve as pathways to treatment. When properly established, supervised consumption sites and services:

• reduce the risk of accidental overdose, because people are not rushing or using alone

• connect people to social services like housing, employment assistance and food banks

• provide or connect people to healthcare and treatment [including mental health treatment]

• reduce public drug use and discarded drug equipment

• reduce spread of infectious diseases, such as HIV [including access to testing for HIV, hepatitis C and sexually transmitted infections]

• reduce strain on emergency medical services, so they can focus on other emergencies

• provides space for people to connect with staff and peers, which can help a person moderate their drug use and decide to pursue treatment”

Other benefits listed by Health Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Health include:

• access to clean drug use equipment, and fresh water for hygienic use

• drug checking to detect if drugs contain other more harmful substances

• emergency medical care in case of overdose, cardiac arrest or allergic reaction

• basic health services, such as wound care

• education on the harms of drug use, safer consumption practices and safer sex

• access to medications to treat opioid use disorder under the oversight of a healthcare provider

• referrals for drug treatment, rehabilitation and other health services

• access or referrals to social services such as housing or employment supports

• alleviation of calls to other frontline services, such as police and paramedics
• • saving money, time and other resources
• • reducing strain on these services, allowing them to better serve their mandates, and reach their other calls more quickly
• • less secondary trauma of frontline workers from repeat calls, and their potential exposure to COVID

North America’s first supervised injection facility, Insite, opened its doors in September of 2003 with a federal exemption as a three-year scientific study. The results of the study, evaluated by an independent research team, showed it to be successful in engaging the target group in healthcare, preventing overdose death and HIV infections while increasing uptake and retention in detox and treatment. The research, published in peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals, also showed that the program did not increase public disorder, crime or drug use (Source). From 2003-2019, there were over 3.6 million visits to Insite, 48,798 clinical treatment visits, and 6,400 overdose interventions, and zero deaths. (Source)

The Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy is built on 5 “Action Pillars” -- Prevention, Treatment/Clinical Practice, Harm Reduction, Enforcement, and Emergency Management. No one pillar can solve our opioid crisis on its own, they all must work together to make a difference. An SCS is an integral part of the Harm Reduction pillar.

Why In The City Core?

The key reason is that Barrie’s core has a rate almost 8.5 times higher than the provincial rate of opioid poisoning cases, and an almost 3.5 times higher rate than the city as a whole.

Health Canada recommends that SCSs be set up in areas where there are high rates of public drug use, in order to provide the important health, social, and treatment services listed above.

The Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines also specify that an SCS site should be in the areas of highest need, based on mortality and morbidity data. They also require that the site be in a location where it can provide integrated, wrap-around services, with onsite or defined pathways to addictions treatment services, mental health services, primary care services, and social services.

The two locations proposed by the CMHA & SMDHU ensure that the SCS would be accessible to the most residents in need of its services, as well as being able to provide that wrap-around service both Health Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Health outline, through its proximity to complementary organizations and services.

Beyond simply meeting the legislative requirements, having an SCS in the city core would be a key step in solving many of the issues that area has been struggling with. It would alleviate downtown business owners’ concerns about having open drug use or purchases in front of their establishments, potential overdoses on their doorstep, having to keep large supplies of naloxone kits, or disposal of needles in parks, sidewalks, or other public spaces. This would result in a return of foot traffic and individuals wanting to return to the downtown core to shop and dine -- creating a safer space not just for those experiencing addiction, but also for the community as a whole to share space. The people using drugs are kept safer in the presence of trained medical staff, our other community members are kept safer from discarded needles or the secondary trauma of witnessing an overdose, and our first responders are free to respond to other emergency crises more efficiently.

Why Must City Hall Take Action?

"I can tell you those politicians who in 2020 vote against Supervised Consumption Sites or Overdose Prevention Sites... have blood on their hands.

We know the research is clear. … If you can’t get behind supporting a life saving medical intervention, you need to quit your job because you’re killing people.”

Source: “A Conversation with Benjamin Perrin”

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network released the paper "Overdue For A Change: Scaling Up Supervised Consumption Services In Canada” in 2018. Among their many findings and recommendations included in the report are:

“Implementation of SCS in Canada is contingent … on the willingness of provincial, territorial, and municipal authorities to support the services including through funding and by not imposing unnecessary regulation. Efforts must thus be made at and by all levels of government to scale up SCS across the country.”, as well as

"Municipal authorities should not impede the establishment of SCS through the enactment of by-laws.”

In January of 2019, the CMHA, SMDHU and Gilbert Centre began consultations on their proposed SCS, with a report on the proposal going before City Council that May. Their proposal met with much ideological opposition, and many delays, the result of which was the creation of a new Site Selection Advisory Committee (including residents and organizations who opposed the initial site selected), further studies and consultations. And it appears that they are nevertheless meeting more resistance at City Hall.

City Council’s failure to take action — or to embrace evidence-based health science over personal ideology — has seen the health and safety of Barrie residents and our community decline rapidly. This year’s death rate is 51% higher than the previous 3-year average — City Hall needs to support our local health professionals in reversing this trend, not allow it to continue to skyrocket through their inaction.

On 30 September 2011, all nine judges of Canada's highest court ruled that attempts to close the Vancouver-based SCS, Insite, contravened the country's charter of rights by threatening the lives of injection drug users. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of Insite and underscored the rights of people with addictions to the security of their person under section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the right to life, liberty or security of the person) — clearing the ground for other jurisdictions in Canada to implement supervised injection and harm reduction where it is epidemiologically indicated. This legal case validated the personhood of people with addictions while metaphorically unchaining them from the criminal justice system. (Source)

Barrie City Council needs to uphold the Charter Rights of its citizens, and stop creating roadblocks to the health care of its citizens.

Barrie's SCS Application Process

Government Requirements

Local SCS Proposal and Process

Summary - Site Selection Criteria

1. Proximity to Clients: Strategically located, easily accessible by public transit; Within 1km (or 15 minute walk) from where people use drugs.

2. Wrap-Around Services: Must have onsite or nearby access to addictions treatment services, mental health services, primary care services, social services (e.g. housing, food, employment, etc.)

3. Sensitive Land Uses: care taken with regards to licensed child care centres, parks, and schools.

4. Physical Space Requirements: Space for service intake, consumption, post-consumption and aftercare; hand hygiene, sink and foot washing station and accessible washrooms; meets accessibility regulations. Based on anticipated demand in Barrie, the ability to expand the services if needed.

5. Landlord Approval and Financially Viable

Opioid Poisoning Emergency Department Visits 2019
Site Search Boundaries

General Research on Supervised Consumption Sites

Information from the SMDHU

Fact Sheets / Infographics

Further Background Info

Legal Precedents for SCS

1. The Ontario Human Rights Commission wrote a letter to municipal elected officials regarding human rights and minimum separation distances. Bottom line: we zone for buildings, not for people or services, folks, that's discriminatory!

2. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled (regarding the Insite supervised injection program in Vancouver) that it's unconstitutional to deny life-saving services. This legal case was a cultural landmark that validates the personhood of people with addictions while metaphorically unchaining them from the criminal system.

Additional Research

1. The Ontario HIV Treatment Network released the paper "What is the effectiveness of supervised injection services?", including several peer-reviewed studies. These showed that supervised injection sites can reduce injecting behaviour, reduce transmission of blood-borne diseases, keep people safer, and save lives. Also, that they DO NOT lead to any significant disruptions in public order or safety in the neighbourhoods where they are located.

2. The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network released the paper "Overdue For A Change: Scaling Up Supervised Consumption Services In Canada." Among their many findings and recommendations included in the report is: "Municipal authorities should not impede the establishment of SCS through the enactment of by-laws."