Windsor City Council reiterates support for downtown drug use and treatment facility

People gather outside the City Council in support of the Wyandotte Street East consumer treatments and services site.  (Dale Molnar/CBC - photo credit)

People gather outside the City Council in support of the Wyandotte Street East consumer treatments and services site. (Dale Molnar/CBC – photo credit)

After weeks of wrangling, Windsor City Council will continue to support the monitored drug use and treatment centre, which could open as soon as next month.

At Monday’s meeting, Coun. Fabio Costante introduced a motion asking city councilors to reaffirm their support for the project known as SafePoint at 101 Wyandotte St. E.

“That’s ministry in our community, I honestly think it should be here already,” Costante said.

The motion passed, but there was a sharp rift in the council, with Mayor Drew Dilkens, Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac, Mark McKenzie and Ed Sleiman vote against.

A rally was held outside City Hall on Monday to urge the opening of the site.

CBC News

CBC News

“We’re bringing the community to them to make our voices heard and say we need this now. This is life-saving healthcare and there must be no delays in funding,” said Bilal Nasser, one of the organizers of the rally.

Monday’s vote came after the health unit reached a compromise with downtown Windsor Coun. Renaldo Agostino earlier this month.

After he raised concerns about the location, the health unit approved a resolution to look for another location after that location opened.

Agostino will lead a group looking for an alternative location after he pressed advice to overturn an early vote in support of the location.

Once selected, this alternate site would replace the current site.

This resolution also indicated that public health resources would be used on the project pending approval from provincial funding.

The health department believes the Wyandotte site could open in March after federal approval.

At the last city council meeting, Gignac asked the administration for a report on how much it would cost the city to run the treatment center from August through December if provincial funding failed to materialize for that period.

A report by Human and Health Services Commissioner Andrew Folge says the health unit expects the province to approve funding for the site in July.

If not, the City of Windsor and Essex County would have to meet almost $35,000 a month in expenses.

Before the council passed Costante’s motion on Monday, Gignac tabled her own motion, urging the council to support a recommendation to go ahead with the compromise but not the financial aspects of the deal.

Gignac said she supports opening a site but won’t accept any risk if provincial funding doesn’t materialize.

“There is no guarantee of approval,” she said.

Dilkens said it was a “slippery slope and certainly sets a dangerous precedent in terms of funding from the local health entity to put those costs squarely on the backs of local taxpayers”.

Costante said it would be unusual if the funding wasn’t granted.

Andrew Dowie, Winsdor-Tecumseh’s MPP, said last month that he would be “strongly committed to health services,” including the CTS website, known as SafePoint.

Debate comes after high overdose numbers

The Essex County Medical Society supports the use side, and in a letter, President Joseph Zakaria states that in 2021 there were 505 opioid and drug overdose emergency rooms at Windsor Regional Hospital and Erie Shores Health Care.

That’s up 44 percent from 2020, when there were 351 visits, according to the medical society.

Marion Overholt of Windsor Legal Aid has also sent a letter to City Council, which supports the site.


Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button