Addressing addiction a 'community issue,' mental health association says
Video recently circulated on social media showing used needles outside CMHA Sudbury office
The owner of 200 Larch St. in downtown Sudbury admits that a Facebook video of a pile of used needles in the alley behind the building looks scary.
But Marion Quigley, the CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association, says it is not a unique or uncommon problem in the downtown.
The association recently took possession of the building which is used as a shelter. Renovations to the facility are currently underway.
Quigley says different groups are taking steps to help address the issue, including installing more bio bins for used needles and educating store owners on how to safely pick up the needles.
She says there have also been discussions about opening a supervised injection site in the city, although she adds with the new provincial government, "some of that is on hold right now."
"A lot of these solutions aren't going to happen tomorrow," she said.
"Unfortunately, people are going to continue to use. We just have to look at it as a community issue."
'Bigger plans' needed
Quigley says the community has come together to address social issues in the past, including a few years ago when increased drinking was reported in downtown Sudbury.
"We have a managed alcohol program [now]," she said.
"It doesn't mean that that the drinking hasn't stopped, it just means for those individuals, they have a new life and it is showing great success."
As for the needles outside her office, Quigley says they have been cleaned up and plans are in the works to fence the area and prevent access to the alley.
But, she adds, the community needs to work together to address this issue.
"I can put lights up [and] I can put a fence up but those people that are using back there will move down the street. They're not going to leave the community," she said.
"We need to have plans, bigger plans — whether that's a supervised injection site or it's other housing services so people can use in the privacy of their own homes or it could be addiction programs to help people stop."
With files from Kate Rutherford