Process to get Windsor-Essex overdose prevention site faces 'friction'

The deadline to apply for an overdose prevention site in Windsor-Essex is fast approaching, and the health unit doesn't think the region will be able to make it in time.

Politicians are divided on whether the region should have a site or not, while the deadline looms

Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is in the process of conducting a community consultation on supervised injection sites. (CBC News)

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says submitting an application for an overdose prevention site in time to receive funding is unlikely.

That's because to submit an application, not only does there need to be coordinated social services around having a site, there needs to be "evidence of local support," according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

The spokesperson told CBC News in an email that applicants must have "a liaison plan to outline how community concerns will be mitigated on an ongoing basis."

However, despite calls for an overdose prevention site in the region, there have been some vocal opposition from the mayor and Windsor police chief.

Both have expressed the concerns, ranging from worries about crime to thinking the site might not be effective.

"There is a degree of friction in terms of trying to slow the process down," said Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara, who is also the chair of the board of health.

Tecumseh mayor Gary McNamara supports having an overdose prevention site in the Windsor-Essex region. (Jason Viau/CBC)

According to McNamara, while conversations are happening to get everyone on the same page, it's a slow process. Though he understands where the chief is coming from, he wants to remind everyone that human life is involved behind the issue.

"There is a victim in the whole process, it's the person that's addicted to these drugs," he said.

Another piece he wants to see is to start implementing treatment facilities in addition to having an OPS, to act as a follow-up and to help steer people away from addiction.

The health unit's deadline to submit an OPS application is the end of December — a timeframe which McNamara  doesn't agree with.

He thinks the province should allow communities to have an "ongoing ability" to make applications.

Currently, the health unit is in the process of doing an online consultation on a supervised injection site to identify community concerns. It is open until Dec. 17.

With files from Jason Viau