Windsor

Overdose prevention site opens in Windsor — but you can't actually use drugs in it

On Saturday, a black tent popped up at the corner of Victoria and Elliott in downtown Windsor. It bore a sign saying "Windsor Overdose Prevention Site" — but people weren't actually allowed to consume drugs in there.

Mock site opened by the Windsor Overdose Prevention Society

The mock overdose prevention site is located at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Elliott Street W., in front of Victoria Manor. (Windsor Overdose Prevention Society)

On the weekend, a black tent popped up at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Elliott Street W. in downtown Windsor.

It has all the hallmarks of a temporary overdose prevention site, including staff, a sign saying "Windsor Overdose Prevention Site" and the availability of naloxone and harm reduction kits.

But there's one major caveat: people aren't actually allowed to consume drugs on the premises.

The 'mock' site is an initiative of a community group called Windsor Overdose Prevention Society. They were spurred into action when the Ford government placed overdose prevention site applications — including one for Windsor — on hold.

The idea was to open a temporary, unsanctioned site similar to those in Toronto operated by the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society, which, while initially illegal, were given clearance by police to operate.

However, according to Brandon Bailey, a member of the Windsor group, police here have not been as permissive.

A stock of supplies inside in the mock site. (Windsor Overdose Prevention Society)

"We can't have people using on the site now, because they could be convicted of a crime," he said in an interview with Afternoon Drive Chris dela Torre. "We're here to help the community — the drug-using community — we're not here to put them in a position where they're all going to get arrested."

As a result, the group decided to open a mock site to show residents what an overdose prevention site is all about.

"This very beneficial to the drug-using community, yes, but it's also beneficial to everybody else in the community," Bailey said. "Nobody wants their children to have to find a needle on the school ground — we can help with that problem."

The group plans to operate during the evening at the Victoria Avenue site this week and hopes to find a different location in the future.

About the Author

Jonathan Pinto is the host of Up North, CBC Radio One's regional afternoon show for Northern Ontario and is based in Sudbury. He was formerly a reporter/editor and an associate producer at CBC Windsor. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.

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