Olivia Chow thinks Supervised Injection Sites are Working Just Fine

Throughout this campaign, Mark Saunders has been talking about the devastating impact of supervised injection sites on families and residents who live and play near the harm-reduction facilities.

Mark has maintained from the beginning: this isn’t a question about harm reduction: we know it works. This is about HOW we do it. How do we protect both the clients of supervised injection sites AND the families that live around the sites?

Residents and businesses are pleading for the city to take action because their streets are filled with needles. Families can’t play at the park with their kids and pets because there are needles on the ground.

Mark has spoken to many families that keep Naloxone kits in their homes because they are afraid of their children getting poked with unknown substances and needing to administer life-saving Narcan. Parents are afraid their children could be hurt from needles they find on their doorsteps, on the sidewalks or in the playgrounds. They’re scared and no one at city hall is listening to them. We know the drug supply today isn’t safe. Some of the drugs are so potent, touch-transmission can severely injure someone, especially a child.

This isn’t a theoretical fear: kids in Toronto, and Vancouver have faced this very threat.

For speaking out on the side of parents, mayoral candidate Olivia Chow, and other city-hall insiders attacked Mark as being anti-harm reduction, anti- Narcan, anti-everything.

We understand that they don’t want to have a discussion about how devastating these supervised injection sites have been on the local communities. Because if they did, they’d have to look in the mirror.

Needles littering our neighbourhoods and parks is a result of deliberate choices by people with a misguided agenda over the past decade. Many of these people now want to be mayor. They were warned this would happen and it did. Decisions are made but then there is little interest in accountability or follow-up on how these decisions are impacting residents.

Supervised injection sites save lives, but we cannot forget the quality of life of those who live, work, and commute in areas where these sites are located. Nearby residential neighbourhoods and parks cannot become overrun with needles and garbage–that is clearly unfair to local residents. There must be a focus on street safety and cleanliness.

Compassion doesn’t have to be thrown out the window–in fact, quite the opposite. But compassion has to cut both ways, and residents have unfortunately received the short end of the stick on this debate. It's time for their voices to be heard.