It’s Christmas! Just tonight CTV showed schoolkids doling out soup to the homeless and addicts at the soup kitchen. However, you would never know the time of year by the people writing to me and to Facebook about the possibility of a safe injection site in Waterloo Region, particularly Galt.
The worst I saw was a post on Facebook with a picture of a man having a seizure in a Galt mini-mart. The poster was angry that he dare to be homeless and a drug addict and collapsing in a public place. Particularly disturbing to me, as the wife, mother and grandmother of people who have epilepsy and, while controlled, could have a seizure anywhere.
I understand that people in Cambridge are upset after a little boy ended up pricked by a needle left in a park. I understand people suffering from mental illness can seem scary. Writing to your council telling them you want the House of Friendship to not open a new house to support recovering addicts, you want the Bridges closed and all people who seem to be addicts or homeless removed from your community is too much.
Public Health is conducting a survey on opinions concerning Safe Injection Sites for the provincial government. The Region of Waterloo has not yet had any report on this and certainly we have not had any suggestions on where this site would be or even what it would look like. Thank you to the people who have suggested also having help, whether mental or social services, available for people using the site.
Right now no one knows what drugs contain deadly fentanyl. Recently a 14 year old boy died from one mistake. Injecting drugs is only a small part of the drug problem. Some say safe injection sites can stop needles from being left in parks and secluded areas. People using needles will not stop using them. Clean needles are given out to stop the sharing of needles which spreads hepatitis and AIDS.
For many years, Downtown Kitchener had the overwhelming majority of services for the poor and the lost, as council always heard from Mayor Carl Zehr. Now Waterloo has second stage housing for homeless men, women and children and Cambridge has the Bridges. All homeless need a permanent home, not being driven from city to city. Many addicts have underlying mental problems
Every drug addict and homeless person is someone’s family and friend. I remember when a well known Kitchener homeless man died, his family sent donuts to the Kitchener police to thank them for their help.
It’s Christmas. A couple of weeks ago I attended a regular Sunday service at St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City. I had walked up two quiet rain washed blocks from the subway stop by Central Park to the side of the cathedral. Two homes made of cardboard, blankets and a tarp snuggled between the buttresses that held up the church. I walked past and around the corner and attended the service.
Sitting among the members of the church was a man with dirty hair and shabby clothes, obviously homeless, yet obviously accepted by the congregation. After the service, I passed the cardboard and tarps as I headed back to the subway. One of the “homes” was empty. It seemed it belonged to the grubby man in the cathedral.
Are we going to be like the congregation of St John the Divine Cathedral and accept those in difficulty or are we only going to reject them and make the problem worse?
Here are some links:
Waterloo Region Drug Strategy
Safe Injection Site Survey