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Cambridge group organizes Public Forum to discuss supervised injection sites

Last Updated Dec 13, 2017 at 9:00 pm EDT

A injection kit is seen inside the newly-opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site in Surrey, B.C. Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Drug users in Surrey, B.C., will be allowed to use substances orally and nasally, not just by injection, at two supervised consumption sites in the city, the first time Health Canada has approved such an exemption. Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall says that means more overdoses will be reversed, saving lives in the midst of an opioid epidemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The grassroots group ‘A Better Cambridge’ is calling for a slower approach to the idea of safe injection sites.

It comes as Cambridge has sent two councillors to visit other supervised sites across the province, in case their City gets one in the future.

Bill Kirby is a member of ‘A Better Cambridge’ and appeared on the Mike Farwell Show on Wednesday.

He says they organized the meeting so everyone involved in this approach can get together, and share the information with the public.

“In broad terms, Cambridge is a wonderful place to live, but when you see things that are exacerbated by homelessness or opioid use — like discarded needles — the perception is often more than the reality. So we’re trying to address these things, and make sure the image that we have of ourselves and that we push out to the rest of the world, is a positive one. We want to make sure the people that are directly affected by some of these problems are protected as well, as they’re people that need help.”

Kirby says the group feels there needs to be more information before the Region goes forward with implementing any safe injection sites.

“We organized tonight’s meeting so we can have all of the people involved, like Regional Police and the Crime Prevention Council, and make sure all this information is fed back to the public, so people can make an informed and rational choice in respect to supervised injection sites.”

Kirby adds that the group does realize that supervised injection sites can result in harm reduction, but there are still concerns.

“Are they really doing the good that they intended to do, or are they simply addressing the visible problem as opposed to the real problem? And are they causing other problems that cities hadn’t anticipated? So we’re hoping all of that is addressed in the Harm Reduction Council’s feasibility study.”

The Public Community Forum is happening at the Dunfield Theatre on Grand Avenue at 7 p.m.

Panelists include Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin, Michael Beazely with the Region of Waterloo Integrated Drug Strategy, Michael Parkinson with the Region of Waterloo Crime Prevention Council, Dennis Purcell with The City of Cambridge, and Karen Quigley-Hobbs with Region of Waterloo Public Health.

In a release, the group says “A Better Cambridge’ is not ‘for’ or ‘against’ supervised injection sites, we are ‘pro-information”.