Durham Region Needs a Safe Injection Site Now!
Durham Region Needs a Safe Injection Site Now!
Why this petition matters
In 2019 it was proposed that the Region of Durham should have a Harm Reduction Centre (also referred to as a Safe Injection Site) within the City of Oshawa to help combat things like; Drug overdoses, spread of infectious diseased through dirty needles, improperly discarded needles in public spaces, and other drug related injuries. The motion was put to a vote by the City of Oshawa councillors and was voted down 6-5. Many residents of Oshawa and surrounding areas are disappointed in this decision and wish to have our voices heard.
It is no secret that there is a severe opioid crisis in our city. It was severe in 2019 and it has only gotten worse since then. I have multiple children (biological and foster) in 2 schools here who have already witnessed opioid injections on and beside their school properties during this school year by the end of week two. The first was a female on Durham Alternative Secondary School property who was witnessed by my teens and their peers, injecting a needle into her leg while kids walked by and into the school. The next was friday morning, there were 3 individuals beside the entrance to Village Union Public School property, sitting on a curb and injecting right there as kids walked past to go to class. Almost daily in my neighbourhood we see people who are so high they can barely walk, muttering, fist fighting signs and light posts, falling down, screaming at the sky, and throwing around trash at all hours of the day and night. We've picked up needles off our properties, sidewalks, hiking trails, in parks, etc. to properly dispose of in the (not enough) available hazardous waste boxes. We've detoured around their tents surrounded by garbage, excrement, and hazardous waste on the path leading to our kids' schools. My neighbour has called 911 twice for people overdosed and unresponsive on the hiking trails during her daily early morning walks. After the latest encounter I decided to look up where Oshawa's safe injection site is so that I might be able to help these people get to it when they accidentally find themselves on private property, only to find that Oshawa does not have a safe injection site because 6 out of 11 city counselors voted AGAINST it. This city's intravenous drug problem has gotten so out of control that the residents who have been trying their best to clean up the neighbourhood for the kids, for the future generations - we're burnt out. We're sick of the hazardous waste materials laying all around the city in plain sight. I don't know who would vote against or protest having a safe injection site in Oshawa but maybe those people need to climb down from their ivory towers and come out to street level, Downtown Oshawa, to see what's happening first hand. I've seen the rebuttals and its obvious that those people don't see just how bad it is down here. To anyone who would vote against a harm reduction centre coming to the epicentre of Durham Region's drug crisis because they thought it would encourage drug use or bring drugs into Oshawa I have a huge news flash for those people: THE DRUGS ARE ALREADY HERE! They've been here for years. And the dangers posed to the city for not having a safe injection site just keep growing! Dangers to the users and dangers to everyone else who just want to live here. A safe place to inject, away from our kids was proposed not because anyone wants to enable them, but because blatant, public drug use already so prevalent in our community that it is no longer possible to turn a blind eye and pretend it isn't happening all around us. A safe injection site doesn't bring drugs because they'll be injecting their own, same drugs they're already using, but instead, off of public and private properties, supervised by professionals who will be able to safely dispose of the hazardous tools we keep finding in our neighbourhoods. The city currently has a harm reduction program which sees many thousands of needles handed out to the addicts each year. None of which are required to be returned or exchanged in order to receive a new needle. This program only helps to reduce the harm caused by addicts being forced to share used needles and spreading diseases like AIDS and hepatitis. The current harm reduction program does nothing to help keep those used from being discarded all over the city. Nor does it help slow down overdoses. This proposed site supervision would also be able to administer the life saving drug Naloxone when needed, leading to less lives lost, less chance for our children to accidentally encounter a discarded needle, or human remains due to overdose in our public spaces. So many lives could be saved just by having one small area dedicated to cleaning up our streets and protecting human life. At this point some readers might be thinking: "But they're junkies. Why should we care about protecting them?" And it makes me sad to know that this even needs to be stated because I've had to say it over and over to people who just don't understand: BECAUSE THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS! Because they are ALL somebody's son or daughter, grandchild, niece or nephew, aunt or uncle, mother or father, sister or brother, somebody's best friend, somebody's everything. Right now there are people out there desperately pleading with them, praying for them, searching for them, just wishing they'd come home. Society has gotten so used to dehumanizing these people that we often forget that even the people we despise the most, are someone else's reason to live. We forget that addiction is not the cause, it is a symptom. It is a symptom of trauma, of life altering PTSD, of depression, of society's failures in the mental health department We overlook their humanity and forget that, as it is now, for a very small percentage of them there is a possibility of a future after addiction. A future of returning home and being somebody's everything once again. Some will live long and happy, productive lives. Some will become advocates and life coaches to help others get clean. I personally know some of such people who are happy, loving, and loved, productive members of society after addiction recovery. I keep hearing people say addicts don't deserve help because "They chose this life, that's the risk they take" and I can't understand how someone can just dehumanize people, just dismiss their lives because they're stuck in addiction. As it is now, a sad majority of intravenous drug addicts will die from overdoses and dirty needles before they get that chance to make the choice to become something better. Imagine how many more humans could have a chance for life after addiction if only there were enough decent people who cared enough about their life to advocate for this undoubtedly life saving facility to be granted to our city.
I created this petition with the support of ward 5 city of Oshawa councillor, Brian Nicholson, as well as many concerned Oshawa residents, to appeal to your humanity, now, as people with loved ones: To think to the future of this city, this region and ALL of her inhabitants. For a possibility of life after addiction for many loved ones, and for a cleaner, safer Oshawa. If there is anyone in this world you would fight for just imagine its them; overdosing alone in a park or forest because they didn't have access to clean needles or naloxone. Trying to clean up a needle in the school yard without gloves and absorbing fentanyl through their fingers. Sliding down a slide and puncturing a foot on a discarded meth needle buried in the sand. Many Oshawa residents live in fear every day that any one of these scenarios could play out for one of our loved ones. This is why you should be concerned for the future of Oshawa without a safe injection site. It is time to contact your local ward councillor and tell them you want a safer community! It is time to demand a safe injection site!