Weather conditions force temporary Parkdale supervised injection site to close
Chris Fox, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, October 10, 2018 11:29AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 10, 2018 7:50PM EDT
A temporary supervised injection site in Parkdale will shut down today due to deteriorating weather conditions and the ‘unwillingness’ of the provincial government to offer a solution that would allow it to operate safely, organizers say.
Volunteers have been operating a makeshift supervised injection site in tents located in the Dunn Avenue Parkette ever since the Progressive Conservative government announced a “pause” on the opening of three temporary facilities in August, including one planned for a trailer outside the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre.
In a press release issued on Wednesday, the group responsible for the operation of the makeshift facility said that they can no longer operate it due to the increasing prevalence of rain and winds that have resulted in safety issues.
They say that on Sunday night the winds were strong enough to “blow the walls off the tent” and “overturn it in the middle of the park,” preventing it from operating.
“We are not taking this decision lightly, but the changing weather and most importantly, the unwillingness of the current government to work with community members trying to save lives calls for different strategies,” Steph Massey of the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society said in the press release. “We had hoped to have a resolution to this issue by this point, but given the 9-week ongoing refusal of the current provincial government to recognize this urgent need, we are left with no choice but to close the tents.”
The Toronto Overdose Prevention Society previously operated a similar makeshift supervised injection in Moss Park, beginning in August, 2017.
When the weather conditions began to worsen last fall, the previous Liberal government provided that facility with a heated medical-style tent that allowed it to continue to operate in the colder weather. The tent was eventually replaced with a trailer provided by Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario which was later closed altogether when a permanent facility opened up next door at the Fred Victor Centre.
In the news release, the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society called on the federal government to “immediately provide interim exemptions and funding” to the group so that they can set up and operate temporary facilities that had already been approved in Parkdale, St. Catharines and Thunder Bay.
They also call on Ottawa to conduct an “expedited review process” for the five other proposed supervised injection facilities that have submitted applications to the Ontario government but have been affected by the ongoing “pause” on the approval of new supervised injection facilities.