Cambridge council has endorsed 150 Main St. in Galt as the preferred location for any potential consumption or treatment site within the city.
The decision was not without controversy as it came just after receiving public consultation on two other sites in the area — a consultation that did not include the chosen site.
Coun. Jan Liggett, who represents the ward where the potential CTS site will sit, expressed her opposition to the move.
“What you’re saying to the people once again, is that consultation means nothing,” she said.
Liggett said most of the feedback opposed a CTS site anywhere within the city, and suggested that councillors did not care about the economy of the city as it would affect businesses in the downtown core.
Coun. Pam Wolf objected to her choice of words, calling for a point of order on whether her words were considered disrespectful. Mayor Kathleen McGarry upheld the point, warning Liggett to be more respectful to her colleagues.
Eventually, Liggett grew so flustered she dropped off the call.
“I’m going to leave this meeting before I say things that I shouldn’t be saying,” she said as she turned off her camera.
While council did not include the site in the most recent consultation, the location has come up in the past as Tuesday’s decision was years in the making.
Coun. Donna Reid, who originally brought forward Tuesday’s motion, noted the public opposition to having a CTS site in the city while thanking the public for the feedback.
“As I read the emails in the report, I was struck with the absolute fear coming from some — fear that has paralyzed their thinking, fear that Cambridge will change in a way that they cannot abide,” she said, adding that the fears were unfounded as residents could turn to neighbouring communities to see how CTS sites have helped solve some of the nasty side effects of the opioid crisis.
“We have successes in our neighbouring cities that show us concretely the benefits to a community of such a site — the economic, social and health benefits that accrue from receipts,” Reid said.
“There’s also a moral need to help the most vulnerable citizens. Frankly, it is this moral obligation.”
Coun. Mike Mann, who seconded the motion, noted practical reasons for a potential CTS site at 150 Main St.
“The social services and the services available at 150 Main St. include health, education, housing, disease prevention, promotional activities and referral services,” Mann said.
The former police officer added: “I think most of you know that I didn’t like the idea of a consumption site. I always liked the idea of a treatment centre, but I absolutely can’t sit back anymore and watch people dying in our community as a result of accidental overdoses.”
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