Kitchener acts 'holier than thou' in opioid crisis, Cambridge mayoral candidate says

Cambridge mayoral candidate Ben Tucci says other cities, including Kitchener, are contributing to the opioid crisis in his community.

'These issues are finding themselves in other parts of the community,' Vrbanovic says

Kitchener has been accused by one Cambridge mayoral candidate of not taking care of its own people when it comes to the opioid crisis.

Ben Tucci, a former Cambridge city councillor who has more than 40 years working in the financial sector, says he wants to see a survey done of the demographics of people who would use a supervised consumption site (SCS) because he said he doesn't believe the people, particularly those on the streets in the Galt core, are all from the city.

"Do your work and let's really determine whether the need is in Galt because it's homegrown — I know it's the wrong word to use but you understand where I'm coming from — or is the need in Galt because other jurisdictions that play holier than thou, like Kitchener, that suggest that they'll take an SIS (supervised injection site) because they care for their people and Cambridge doesn't care for its people," he said.

"Yet when you look at it … some of the issue we have, is coming out from that part of the region. And we have people coming in from Toronto and Brampton and other areas and we have to get a handle on the demographics and only then can we determine what the best triage, the best solution's going to be."

'Furthest from the truth'

It's a suggestion Berry Vrbanovic, Kitchener's current mayor, disagrees with strongly.

"That is furthest from the truth," he said.

"The reality is Kitchener has, for many, many years has been dealing with many of the social issues that the region was faced with, simply by virtue of the fact that we were the largest community in the region. And as a result, many of the social agencies set themselves up in Kitchener and so we had to deal with a lot of those challenges," he said.

Vrbanovic and current Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig, who is seeking re-election, argued at a regional council meeting over where supervised consumption sites (SCS) should go.

Cambridge council has passed a bylaw stating no SCS can go into the core areas of the city.

Even after that bylaw was passed, the region still considered putting an SCS in the Galt core.

"We still see it in the charts," Craig said at the August meeting. "And you wonder why people in Cambridge are upset. They don't want it there, it's that simple."

Vrbanovic disagreed and said, "It saddens me that's the direction the municipality chose to go because if we all do that, quite frankly, we're going to be in a world where we're not caring for the people that we need to care for in this community."