By: Calissa Medeiros
Safe injection sites could be coming to Hamilton, pending a community survey and city council action.
The city of Hamilton has been holding an online survey to determine whether or not Hamilton will be opening its own safe injection site in a local area within the city of Hamilton.
Results from the survey would decide whether or not safe injection sites are something that people believe would benefit the community, and assist individuals who struggle with drug addiction and are not getting all the help that the city is able to provide for them.
Repeated studies prove that safe injection sites would not cause negative effects on its surroundings. Instead, it may have a positive impact from the results of having less syringes and fewer people publicly injecting.
“This isn’t the same as condoning or supporting drug use – this is about keeping people safe,” Dr. Jessica Hopkins, Associate Medical Officer Of Health, said in a meeting last September when the Board of Health approved the plan to begin considering building safe injection sites.
Not all members of the board are in agreement of the situation, such as Lloyd Ferguson, chairman of the City Police Board. Ferguson mentioned the “quandary” for police that safe injection sites may be, considering the fact that drugs like heroin and cocaine are illegal, and “here we are as a city, encouraging it.”
There are about 30 overdose-related deaths in Hamilton every month. On average, 60 to 100 people overdose at safe injection sites in the same time, but none have ever resulted in death because there is medical supervision.
Since 2003, safe injection sites have been helpful to communities that struggle with drug abuse in Vancouver, B.C.
Every day, 700 people wait in line to get a spot in the safe injection sites, where they will be given clean needles and crack pipes, and are able to inject pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of addiction counselors, addiction doctors, nurses, and volunteers.
Since the opening of the sites in 2003, overdose related deaths and evidence of public injection has decreased by a ‘significant amount’, according to a report written in 2009. Findings from the Evaluation of Vancouver’s Pilot Medically Supervised Safer Injection Facility — Insite.
The Hamilton survey came to an end on October 26th. The feedback will help the city take the next step in understanding the need that the city has to build these sites, and if it would be beneficial to the community and attend the needs of individual’s health.