Second Windsor councillor voices disapproval over SafePoint location

Ward Four Coun. Mark McKenzie has now made his position known about whether or not council should respind its support for the downtown location of a drug consumption and treatment site (CTS).

“I don’t support any location,” McKenzie said Saturday while speaking on Live and Local on Am800 radio. “I’m all about spending money on addiction and recovery services for addicts instead of enabling them to take more drugs.”

McKenzie said he campaigned in last fall’s election on reversing councils’ decision to support a CTS.

“I’ve dealt with addicts in the past, friends, some family members unfortunately as well, and one of the ways to fix that addiction is you gotta get them out of that environment,” said McKenzie.

He doesn’t believe the city needs a CTS but if one must be established he thinks it belongs in the hospital.

McKenzie also believes money would be better spent on more mental health services in Windsor, Ont.

“People who suffer from mental health should be getting treatment. They shouldn’t get a quote ‘safe spot’ to do their illicit drugs,” said McKenzie.

“This is not about enabling,” said Michael Brennan, executive director of Positive Pathways, a Windsor-based advocacy group for people living with or at risk of getting sexually transmitted infections.

Brennan said the value of a CTS is healthcare staff can meet a user “where they are at” in order to gain trust, build a relationship and help them begin the process of sobriety.

“And we do that using people with lived experience and medical or social expertise to connect them to either the resources that they need at that moment, and or a treatment recovery support plan that will work to reduce harm to themselves,” said Brennan.

Positive Pathways, he said, has been working alongside the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) and other local agencies for “many years” to establish a CTS to save lives.

They released a statement late Friday in support of moving forward with the CTS — slated to open by the end of March — and to launch a petition for residents to sign.

Brennan told CTV News Windsor Saturday they had to “exhaustively” present their case to city council “over and over again.”

So when he heard Coun. Renaldo Agostino is set to ask council to reverse their support on Monday, he was “confused.”

“Communication is expected but not reciprocated by these councilors and for them to be fully informed and that’s what I find disingenuous around the process,” said Brennan.

WECHU hosted a virtual town hall Wednesday on the CTS, which covered all issues on the subject.

Windsor City Council meets on Jan 30, at 4 pm, and Agostinos’ notice of motion will be heard closer to the end of the meeting. At least 21 delegates are set to speak to the motion.

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