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Home Opinion Opinion: Unresolved questions surround Consumption and Treatment Services Site selection in Ward Three

Opinion: Unresolved questions surround Consumption and Treatment Services Site selection in Ward Three

Opinion by Ward 3 resident Jean Fair

Hamilton’s Board of Health agrees that there are unresolved questions about critical issues concerning the selection of Consumption and Treatment services (CTS) sites, including:

  • A lack of clarity in the Federal CTS guidelines on site location…including how to measure 200 metres (as the crow flies, or by walking?).
  • Neither criteria nor procedures were in place to handle petitions against CTS sites.
  • Neighbourhood impact studies were not done.
  • No process existed to verify whether public consultations took place.

The proposed 746 Barton Street East CTS site (on the Stipley neighbourhood’s main artery) has numerous sensitive sites within 200 metres (as the crow flies), including, but not limited to:

  • St. Ann (Hamilton) Catholic Elementary School.
  • Boxing Champion Gym for inner city children.
  • The African Caribbean Cultural Association.
  • LUSO support services for those living with physical and/or developmental disabilities.
  • Holy Spirit Ukrainian Church, St. Stanislaus Polish Church, and St. Ann Catholic Church.
  • The Barvinok Ukrainian School of Dance.

How many signatures does it take to sway city hall?  Hamilton was incorporated in 1846; why hasn’t the process to deal with petitions been resolved and made public?  

Despite these problems, on February 13, 2023, all but Councillors Pauls and Francis on the Board of Health voted in favour of the 746 Barton Street East CTS site.  The Board agreed, however, that the outstanding issues would have to be rectified before selecting any further sites. All sites deserve the same consideration!

If the 746 Barton site proceeds, Ward 3 will soon have the only two CTS sites in Hamilton…1.6 km apart.  With 52% of the opioid deaths occurring in Ward 2 in 2022, the locations seem illogical.  Hamilton’s requirements for the site?   a willing landlord (it took over two years to find one), and the site must be in Ward 3 (according to the board’s October 18, 2021 minutes).  How can this constitute good governance?

Dr. Clair Bodkin, a delegate at the February meeting, advised that people who use drugs will go no further than ten blocks to a CTS site.  One must conclude that the plan is either that all people with addictions will move to Ward 3, or that they will continue to place a heavy load on paramedics and ambulances. Based on the Spectator’s recommendation that the CTS sites go where they are most needed, both sites should be in Ward 2.

Another delegate told the board that mobile units had saved her life on four separate occasions. Mobile units were an integral part of Portugal’s success in lowering their drug-induced death rate to five times lower than the E.U. average and one-fiftieth of that in the U.S.

A Simon Fraser University study (“The Harm in Harm Reduction”) noted; “From 2005 to 2015, the number of homeless addicts who had migrated to (Vancouver’s) Downtown Eastside from outside the neighbourhood increased from 17 % to 52% of the overall Population.”  Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside was costing $1 million daily in 2012. In 2019, the mayor said, “The neighbourhood is worse now.” Why follow a losing strategy?

The 430 Cannon Street CTS site was also approved without any notice, public disclosure, nor neighbourhood impact studies.  The consultation with the public consisted of information sessions with no opportunity for community input. Cathy Wever Elementary School at 160 Wentworth Street North is less than 200 metres away.  The area supports residential properties directly across the street and there is a mix of businesses, services, and social housing.  Hamilton Urban Core received $15.4 million from the province “to cover the hiring of a consultant to see the plan through, architectural design and construction”. The location was selected because of the “reasonable rate”. 

What will happen if the caveats (regarding impact, support, and wrap-around service co-ordination) for TAN, staff and Hamilton Public Health, stipulated on February 22, 2023 (when City Council endorsed the second site), are not fulfilled?

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