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Barton Street community cleanup highlights Hamilton – the need for a second safe consumption site in HamiltonOUS News

Advocates for a Safe Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) site on Barton Street East have organized a ‘community cleanup’ program to show why people need a safe place to use drugs.

Volunteers from SWAP (Sex Workers Action Program) Hamilton and AIDS Network took to the streets Thursday morning with gloves and buckets to pick up trash, used needles and other hazards.

Jelena Vermilion, executive director of Swap Hamilton, said she wanted to organize the initiative to respond to those who oppose the idea of ​​a CTS site on Barton and tell them what better ways to make the neighborhood better for all residents. There are methods – including those that use drugs.

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

He said that if people who use drugs have a place to dispose of them properly and take care of them in the event of an overdose, the chances of needles and other hazards thrown on the streets will be reduced.

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“We have to create a community where everyone, including those who struggle and those who aren’t… comfortable to watch, are also in our community.”

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Hamilton’s first CTS site was approved in March 2019 and is run by the Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Center within the downtown core, although a permanent home is expected on Cannon Street in September 2023.

Last fall, councilors approved the city’s second permanent CTS site at 746 Barton St.

The AIDS Network is applying to the Ministry of Health to be able to run the site, which will also provide “a range of holistic health and wellness services”.

There have been vocal opponents of the site’s location, including the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, citing its proximity to St. Anne’s Catholic Elementary School.

The topic was also front and center in the Ward 3 candidates debate on Cable 14, where business owner Walter Furlan stated that he was not opposed to the concept of the CTS site – just this particular location, which was across the street from him. is business.

“You have multiple daycares, multiple elementary schools, you basically have a special needs facility right next to where it has to go.”

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Later in the debate, Furlan said, “Everyone in this city would prefer to be out of their wards.” “Let’s spread it out evenly, take the pressure off of our ward.”

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Ward 3 councilor Narinder Nunn reported that Hamilton’s opioid epidemic is getting worse, with paramedics responding to 87 opioid-related overdoses this August, compared with an average of 76 a month in 2021 and 47 a month in 2020.

“As a board, we have decided to support increasing the amount of treatment services consumed across the city,” she said.

“Hamilton residents deserve life-saving health support and services, and it is unfortunate that this 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 be relocated to Cannon Street in Ward 3 in 2023 due to a perceived lack of communications in part of the city.

She suggested there should be more public engagement so that residents understand what CTS sites really do and acknowledged that there is no one ideal place that can please everyone.

“They need to be located somewhere and we can’t argue about every single location because there won’t be a Goldilocks spot to put one of these and we need them. So in the end, yes, there are two proposed [sites] For Ward 3 but we can’t say we don’t want it in our backyard.

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Fellow candidate Stan Kruchka said he supports CTS sites, but feels that more needs to be done to prevent them from becoming necessary through rehabilitation programs and other addiction supports.

“We need to start taking care of these people. They’re residents of Hamilton, they’re our neighbors, and they need our help.”

Vermillion said she doesn’t know if everyone is going to support a CTS site in her neighborhood, but added that merely objecting to its existence won’t solve the problem.

“Ultimately, minimizing harm isn’t just about stopping using drugs. It’s about using drugs in a more respectful and safe way. So using clean tools, using new tools that help cross- are not contaminated, and using a place where if you overdose, you have someone who can respond to it in a medically appropriate way.

About two dozen people took part in Thursday morning’s cleanup, and Vermillion said he expects more to happen in the future.

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