The temperature has been dropping and government inaction prompted volunteers to install a trailer for drug users and staff
101 days have passed since the unsanctioned overdose prevention site opened at Moss Park and the volunteer staff keeps supervising people who use drugs and have no intention of stopping.
They were operating in three tents at the park, besides having to manage with scarce resources, staff schedule and others challenges, a new factor was becoming a problem—the weather.
That ended today when the activists decided to stop waiting for the government to give them an adequate indoor space to work in and they installed a trailer to the park.
With the temperature dropping in Toronto, Zoe Dodd, a harm reduction worker and also one of the co-ordinators at the Moss Park site, explained that was impossible continue using tents.
“There is not enough space in the tent for people. We can’t move bodies around when people overdose. It’s just very challenging,” she said.
Dodd said the solution for the cold conditions was to install a trailer at the park during the winter. But they are still waiting for permission from Toronto parks and recreation.
The trailer’s rental is being sponsored by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Ontario). On their Twitter account, they said that the trailer was a way to support the volunteers at Moss Park save lives “in the absence of government leadership.”
The trailer has arrived! In the absence of government leadership, @CUPEOntario has rented a large winterized trailer to ensure the volunteers working to save lives at the #MossPark overdose prevention site can continue to do their important work. #OnPoli pic.twitter.com/AvKd3PcJWo
— CUPE Ontario (@CUPEOntario) November 20, 2017
The interior space of the trailer is divided into two to preserve the privacy of drug users and the staff expects that up to six people will be able use at the same time.
“There’s enough space in there and people can chill out after they’ve used what is really important,” said Dodd. “So we can monitor all of them.”
Dodd notes the growing overdose cases in Toronto and said that the unsanctioned overdose prevention site at Moss Park has already reversed 106 overdoses since it opened.
The Toronto Overdose Information System’s website, updated on Nov. 7, said that Toronto Paramedic Services received more than 1,000 suspected opioid overdose calls since August, with 69 of them being fatal.
Dodd complained that the government isn’t thinking long-term about the overdose crisis. “We’re tired of watching people die, we’re tired of it. So we’ve taken this into our own hands.”
The trailer at Moss Park is near Queen and Sherbourne Street, north of George Brown College’s St. James campus.