The Politics of Consumption (sites)

Last year Windsor City Council approved the location and kicked the implementation process into high gear for a Safe Consumption Site. Today a newly elected city councillor is seeking to undo that progress and restart the process.

Not to step on the toes of my Rose City Politics colleague Kiemia Rezagian who handles our “Carry on Kiemia” segment that looks at upcoming City of Windsor council agendas, I felt a need to put out a post about an upcoming Notice of Motion to be presented at January 30, 2023 meeting of Windsor City Council.

Ward 3 councillor Agostino is bringing forward a motion to rescind city council support for SAFEpoint, the approved safe injection site at 101 Wyandotte Street East.

The motion would require a notification be sent “immediately” to the Windsor Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), Government of Canada and Government of Ontario.

Agostino justifies the motion to rescind by stating that the WECHU “failed to secure a lease at another location”, 628 Goyeau Street, that the location the past city council approved was “considered problematic” by “many affected residents and businesses in the surrounding area”, that there is “ongoing and significant concern” about the approved location, that there is a McDonald’s, a hotel, other businesses “AND the entrance/exit of the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel”, and that other options exist to that “will better balance the needs” of the community.

Through the Notice of Motion, Agostino requests city administration to work with the WECHU to determine alternative “short-term and long-term options including mobile service delivery and inclusion in the permanent Housing and Homeless Help Hub.”

This is all, disappointing to say the least.

Set aside that just yesterday CBC Windsor reported that the site could be opening in just two months, that site plans are finalized, renovations are currently being completed, and that Health Canada is set inspect the site post-renovations.

Last January, in a 6-5 vote, the last city council approved the Safe Consumption Site (I’m not sure why the Notice of Motion refers to it as a Safe Injection Site now; although I can speculate…).

Ward 3’s then councillor Bortolin was a key advocate for the Safe Consumption Site proposal, as well as the location, having to “fight to get the site in his ward”, according to then Ward 4 councillor Holt in a CTV Windsor article.

Councillors Bortolin, Holt, Costante, Kaschak, McKenzie, and Morrison voted in favour, while Councillors Francis, Gignac, Gill, Sleiman, and Mayor Dilkens were opposed.

At the time the site was approved by council, the WECHU stated that the pandemic “worsened the opioid crisis” locally, with ERs, EMS calls, and overdose deaths all higher than in years prior.

In fact, according to data presented by the health unit at the time, overdoses had quadrupled in 2021 since 2016, and unfortunately, the situation is getting worse with 86 people dying from an overdose in 2021; the highest recorded number to date 

Just yesterday, Windsor Police warned local media that “counterfeit oxycodone tablets may be in circulation” in the region which contain fentanyl.

The situation continues to get worse. Those in need of help continue to be in need of it. The plan we have is approved and is being implemented.

But unfortunately, in Windsor, the old adage continues to hold true: one step forward, two steps back.


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