Conditional approval received for Peterborough safe injection site

Health Canada has granted conditional approval for a plan for a supervised drug Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) site in downtown Peterborough.

Accordingly, the CTS site has received federal exemption to allow the use of illegal drugs on its premises, which is conditional on a site visit and proof of funding. The site is projected to operate from the former Greyhound bus station at 220 Simcoe St. and will provide a safe and hygienic space for people to use drugs under the supervision of health professionals to prevent opioid-related poisoning deaths.

The project is spearheaded by Fourcast in collaboration with PARN — Your Community AIDS Resource Network and the Peterborough 360 Degree Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic. In October 2020, PARN had relocated its Harm Reduction Works program to the former bus station building.

According to the groups leading the project, so far, about $25,000 of the $160,000 needed has been raised to host the CTS.

Currently, fundraising is underway to renovate the building while the project awaits the receipt of provincial funding approval to operate the facility. In addition, the groups are collaborating with the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough (CFGP) to collect donations from the public.

“We are renovating now so the CTS can start saving lives as quickly as possible. With the exemption in hand, we’re confident our application meets all the provincial requirements to get ongoing operational funding. With our community’s financial help, we can be better prepared for opening within a shorter timeline.”

Donna Rogers, Fourcast’s Executive Director

Peterborough is one of three Ontario locations that were seeking exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). Since May 2021, there have been 20 suspected opioid deaths in Peterborough Public Health’s jurisdiction of Peterborough, Peterborough County, Hiawatha First Nation and Curve Lake First Nation.

“We see every day the devastation that the opioid crisis has brought to Peterborough,” said Dane Record, the interim executive director of PARN.

“There are already 20 people who are suspected to have lost their lives this year alone, and 20 families who will never see their loved one again. Consumption Treatment Services sites have proven to prevent overdoses and save lives in communities where they operate. It’s clear that we need to get Peterborough’s site up and running as soon as possible.”

Furthermore, the Peterborough Regional Health Centre has reported some of the highest rates in Ontario for opioid-related emergency department visits compared to the provincial average.

“The Peterborough Police Service is happy that our community partners are now closer than ever to making a CTS in Peterborough a reality. This will be an important addition to existing services providing much-needed service and paths to treatment for those with substance use disorder. We will continue to support our partners in this project going forward and hope they can achieve all of their fundraising goals.”

Peterborough Police Chief, Scott Gilbert

Peterborough police and paramedics have also expressed approval for the CTS as an important addition to existing services for opioid treatment.

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