Controversial safe consumption site in Barrie takes step forward
BARRIE, ONT. -- In the first nine months of 2020, 47 people died from opioid overdoses in Barrie, double the rate of the previous year, underlining the need for a supervised consumption site.
After years of fiery public debate, a committee now recommends that an industrial plaza at the edge of downtown Barrie house the region's first supervised consumption site.
Barrie city council will weigh in on the proposal for 80 Bradford Street (also known as 19 Innisfil Street) when it meets on May 25.
Some harm-reduction advocates pushed for a supervised consumption site closer to the city core, but there was resistance from downtown business owners and residents.
Dr. Lisa Simon, the associate medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, says they considered many factors.
"It is the site that is the best balance between serving client needs effectively, but also being an acceptable fit within the surrounding balance."
Simon explains that the site benefits from being close to wrap-around services, like mental health supports. The space is also big enough to allow other service providers to come in, and there's a separate entrance to give clients a level of privacy.
If the council endorses a supervised site for 80 Bradford, the provincial and federal governments would be asked for their approval.
Simon isn't sure how long the process might take but expects opening would be several months away.
"The potential for this kind of site both to prevent overdose deaths and to give people the opportunity to connect with other health and social services, and form really trusting and compassionate relationships with people who can help them in whatever next steps they want to take; I don't think there's any doubt by many of us that that would make a really significant contribution to this community," she concludes.