Waterloo regional councillors have approved four potential locations for supervised injection sites, giving staff the green light to move forward with a second round of public consultations. 

The decision, made Tuesday during a community services committee meeting, was welcomed by some community members who spoke to councillors about the need for more addiction services in the region.

“The safe injection site, I believe, is going to be the first step to recovery,” said Sherif Louka, a Kitchener man who is himself a recovering opioid user. 

“If somebody takes the time to go use the safe injection site, they are holding on to some sort of hope in life. They don’t want to die.”

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Location a sticking point

Not everyone spoke favourably about the supervised injection sites or the potential locations that were chose by regional staff. 

‘We gave them a lot of names, but we don’t know why they were ruled out, how they were ranked. Transparency is the issue.– Dan Clements

At least three people who spoke to councillors disagreed with the two locations suggested in downtown Cambridge: 150 Main St. and 149 Ainslie St. N.

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“It’s not that we want it miles away, we’re talking about a 10 to 15 minute walk,” said Dan Clements, with the group Citizens for a Better Cambridge. 

Clements said his group suggested a number of addresses to the region’s public health department as possible locations for the supervised injection site in Cambridge, but he doesn’t know if any of those buildings were considered.

“That’s one of our issues,” he told CBC News. “We gave them a lot of names, but we don’t know why they were ruled out, how they were ranked. Transparency is the issue.”

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Will consider other locations

Clements is pleased that when council approved the four potential locations, it also left room for additional sites to be considered. 

He said his group plans to investigate some new sites that might fit public health’s guidelines and then put those forward as alternatives to the two locations suggested by staff. 

Council also agreed Tuesday that the regional chair would contact the premier-designate “as soon as possible to determine his government’s commitment to this public health emergency.”

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