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Healthy Communities are Proactive not Reactive

The opioid crisis and toxic drug supply in Barrie is causing an alarming number of deaths in our community. We have, within our reach, an effective evidence-based solution to respond to this serious crisis at 11 Innisfil St.

Healthy communities are proactive not reactive. We cannot allow inaccurate information about Supervised Consumption Sites to delay our application. A healthy community does not see some of its members as disposable.


A healthy community does not see some of its members as disposable.


For over 2 years the Supervised Consumption Site advisory committee, of which I was a member, underwent a comprehensive and transparent search for a suitable location within the boundaries where the highest demand for emergency services, including deaths, continue to occur.


The committee was made up of various community services and stakeholders including some members who actually preferred that the SCS (aka Consumption Treatment Services) be outside the geographical boundaries identified in its terms of reference. Discussions were fulsome and informative. Everyone at the table was given equal voice.

Over the 2 years the committee met, 2 online surveys, mail-outs to areas around the proposed sites and a virtual community consultation took place to provide community members opportunities to express their concerns and possible mitigation strategies. On a regular basis during this time Barrie print media, online news, television and radio reported either directly or indirectly on the committee’s work and progress. This coverage often provided links to access summaries of the meeting’s minutes on the SMDHU website.


The number of deaths were alarming pre-pandemic. Now, these numbers are unacceptable. The local reporting on this issue on all levels has increased over the course of the pandemic including updates on the committee’s work. In other words, there was ample opportunity for public discourse.


The number of deaths were alarming pre-pandemic. Now, these numbers are unacceptable.


It would have been impossible for a site to be chosen that would have been seen as perfect by everyone. However, in CTS currently operating in communities similar to ours in Ontario, good relationships have been forged between the site and its surrounding businesses and residents. Issues are quickly responded to and collaboration for developing mitigation strategies has been, for the most part, very positive.


During my time on the site selection committee, I spoke with the EDs of BIAs in Guelph, Kitchener, St Catherine’s and London. They believe that a healthy, vibrant economically robust community includes their Consumption Treatment Service. None of the BIAs I spoke to said there was a negative effect on surrounding development. None of the developers saw fit to “rejig” their plans because of a nearby CTS. Many of the residents and businesses are unaware that a CTS is even operating in their area. Unaware that this service is busy saving lives and connecting its users to essential supports. Safety concerns for businesses and residents in these communities often identify the local bars as being more problematic than the CTS.


Safety concerns for businesses and residents in these communities often identify the local bars as being more problematic than the CTS.


Attempting to delay a CTS in our community will result in an increase in the sounds of sirens, more pressure on law enforcement and emergency services, more visible detritus of drug consumption and most importantly, more deaths. Delaying this life saving strategy will result in more of what we don’t want as a community. In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental illness or addiction problem. Look around. It’s someone you know. If we delay this life saving service we will be treating that someone as disposable.


Delaying this life saving strategy will result in more of what we don’t want as a community.


CAMH Simcoe County will be working hard over the coming months to meet and collaborate with local residents and businesses to hear their concerns and develop mitigation strategies as we wait for approval for this essential service. No more delays. Support our CTS at 11 Innisfil and raise the value of everyone in our community.

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