Amid problems with homelessness and drug addiction in Brantford, Mayor Kevin Davis, continues to advocate for a safe consumption site for the community. There are currently three homeless shelters in the city (operating at maximum capacity), methadone and rehabilitation clinics, as well as day treatment programs available for addicts, but no supervised injection sites. That is something Davis is pushing to change.
Davis says he’s been doing considerable research. That includes a recent visit to the current site in London, an upcoming site in Barrie and one planned to the location in Guelph. He notes, those centres are all well managed, unlike some sites in Toronto.
Davis admits he was very reluctant to consider a site within Brantford when he first became aware of the issue. He notes, part of that reason being negative news from some poorly managed sites in the province. However, following many talks and visits, has now come to realize the need.
“The reality is we already have consumption sites across our community that take place in washrooms, in restaurants, in open areas, even in Harmony Square and our library. It’s impacting neighborhoods throughout our community already”.
While Davis believes a site within Brantford can bring positive change, it must be accepted by the community rather than imposed by the city. City Council must endorse an application put forward from a community health care group. Under a new provincial program, that group putting forward the application must already have a component of drug treatment and rehabilitation within their organization.
Davis also dispels a myth, noting the site does not provide drugs to the users. The users come and use whatever they already have.
“What it also does is saves lives. It provides people who have these issues a pathway to treatment because for a safe consumption site to operate under the new provincial rules there has to be an on-site rehabilitation worker while the site is open.”Kevin Davis, Brantford Mayor
Davis adds, sometimes it’s very hard to connect with people who have drug use issues. They may not have family doctors, or do not want to see a family doctor, and this provides a way to build a relationship with and encourage them to pursue treatment options offered.
“They are family members, maybe siblings…some who had productive lives and for whatever reason followed a path to drug use. Some can recover through treatment and rehab, and lead productive lives again. I’m not prepared to just give up on them.”Kevin Davis, Brantford Mayor