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Kitchener Mayor says safe injection sites next step in managing opioid crisis

FILE - In this June 26, 2017, file photo, needles lay at the Cactus "safe injection site," where drug addicts can shoot up using clean needles, get medical supervision and freedom from arrest, in Montreal, Canada. Some lawmakers, activists and medical groups in Massachusetts are pushing for the creation of "supervised injection sites". Injection sites are already legal in a number of countries including Australia, Canada, France and Spain. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Managing addictions to opioids continues to be top of mind for Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic.

He tells The Mike Farwell Show safe injection sites are a way to manage those with addictions, comparing it to addictions to caffeine, alcohol and smoking.

“We manage those addictions (to caffeine, alcohol and smoking, among other things),” he said, “For the most part, most people do. But there’s some who don’t, and they deal with the issues that come with that. Society helps them deal with those issues.”

“And I think we have to recognize we need to do the same here.”

Last week, Cambridge council voted against looking at having a site in the core of their city.

Vrbanovic says the issue is widespread in the region, and having sites in each of the urban centres in Waterloo Region is a good starting point to get the crisis under control.

He adds sites need to be within a 10-15 minute walk of known users to be effective, but also leaning against having sites near schools or neighbourhoods that are sensitive to the opioid issue.

Vrbanovic says in the end, the final say will come from regional council and the province on whether Waterloo Region will move forward with sites.