Calls for second supervised drug site in Hamilton amid overdose crisis

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Hamilton needs a robust safe drug supply program to help prevent overdose deaths amid an increasingly volatile market.

A second supervised injection site is also long overdue after council directed city staff to establish one more than two years ago.

Those were two recommendations aired during the first of a two-day conference focused on Hamilton’s ongoing overdose crisis.

It’s “shameful” a city plan to open a second consumption and treatment services (CTS) site has gone nowhere, Dr. Tim O’Shea said during Tuesday’s session.

“I don’t get the sense that they have put in a full-court press that matches the urgency of the actual opioid crisis,” O’Shea, a street outreach doctor, later told The Spectator.

Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre opened the city’s sole supervised space for drug use in June 2018.

Recognizing a void after other agencies’ efforts stalled, council backed public health’s pursuit of a second site in March 2019.

But staff later reported that the city’s real estate division hadn’t been able to line up a space after considering 29 locations.

And despite a subsequent announcement that an undisclosed address had been found, a deal never materialized.

Multiple CTS sites are beneficial because they offer more geographical options for users and a variety of approaches to services and hours of operation, said O’Shea, who is with the Hamilton Social Medicine Response Team.

Urban Core on Rebecca Street has fulfilled its role, but the service doesn’t work for everyone, he said, noting a “huge gap” for drug users in Hamilton.

In an emailed statement, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said public health recognizes Hamilton needs more of the “life-saving” CTS sites as “drugs, in particular opioids, continue to have a devastating impact on individuals and families in our community.”