Stakeholders in Windsor's upcoming safe-consumption site have been handling questions from the community in a series of virtual town halls.
The Windsor-Essex County Health unit, as part of its application to start a Consumption and Treatment Service (CTS) site, has been hosting a series of virtual meetings this week to provide updates on the progress of the CTS and answer any lingering questions from residents. The series of meetings, with the third and final one scheduled on Thursday afternoon, concentrates on concerns raised by downtown businesses and residents.
During Wednesday's meeting, representatives from the health unit, the Windsor-Essex Community Health Centre (WECHC), Pozitive Pathways, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Family Services Windsor-Essex, and the Windsor police provided expert analysis to the discussion, answering questions that were sent in.
Patrick Kolowicz, Director of Mental Health and Addictions at HDGH, cleared up concerns from some community members that the CTS would bring more homeless to the downtown core.
"It's a common misperception that they're all homeless," said Kolowicz. "Individuals accessing a CTS may not be homeless, so we don't want to have that assumption that it's only the homeless population that is using this site."
One concern involved a report that after a similar CTS opened in London, drug overdoses went up substantially.
"To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever died in a CTS facility," said Michael Brennan, executive director of Pozitive Pathways. "With that said, I think I want to acknowledge that the purpose of a CTS is to mitigate overdose deaths in the community."
A PowerPoint presentation provided an update on the progress made at the Windsor CTS site, located at 101 Wyandotte Street East, at the corner of Goyeau Avenue. The presentation showed the ongoing renovations along with a detailed floor plan of how the CTS will set up and manage client flow.
The health unit's application for the CTS has already gotten municipal support as Windsor City Council signed off on the location. The application is subject to further approval from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Health Canada before the CTS can operate. The health unit is focusing on a possible March opening.
Registration for the third and final virtual townhall is available, focusing on downtown agencies. It runs Thursday from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m.