People who use drugs will soon be able to access services provided to them through Peterborough’s Consumption and Treatment Site expected to open next month.

The announcement came as FourCast, the agency running the supervised consumption and treatment site located in the former Greyhound bus station at 220 Simcoe St., got an update their final exemption had been approved Thursday by Health Canada.

The exemption will be valid for up to three years and was granted under Section 51.1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The site will hold a soft opening on June 13, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be open daily after that from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Times are expected to change as more services come online and the need increases in the community.

Employees of the CTS will undergo training for skills and procedures and will include life-saving interventions, knowledge of community services available to clients, documentation knowledge and reporting procedures.

“The CTS will be part of a broader system response to the opiate crisis in our community. The CTS will afford service users options where they can reduce the harms from using the toxic street drug supply,” said Donna Rogers, executive director, FourCAST.

Combined with the 360 Degree Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic’s Safer Supply Program, PARN and other community partners distributing clean harm reduction supplies, it will provide overdose prevention training, and naloxone distribution.

COVID-19 protocols will remain in place, but due to being a health service, there’s no limit on the number of people able to be in the building at one time, said Kerri Kightley, CTS manager.

“We’ll continue to screen people at the door, offer masks and our staff will be masked and will respect the space to protect some amount of social distancing,” she said.

“The greater risk is the risk of an overdose.”

Working with other services in the area, such as the Salvation Army and Peterborough Public Library, the Mobile Supports Overdose Resource Team, which occupies an area in the CTS, has been working with them to meet clients.

The site will offer people the ability to use their drugs in a safe, judgment-free area where they have access to services, not only for their drug use, but also for wound care, mental health and even physical health.

Three consumption booths will be available for people who are looking to using in a safe environment, but they will not be able to use any inhalants due to Ontario’s indoor smoking laws.

“There’s a lot of conversation provincially and nationally around how to implement inhalation services in safer consumption sites,” Kightley said.

“There’s concerns about safety of staff, safety of participants, so we will be at that table and will continue to advocate for the inclusion of inhalation services.”

Wound care issues are a big concern for people as is untreated physical and mental health issues, said Kightley.

“We know the RN will be pivotal in being able to navigate health services and connect people to the primary care services they need,” she said.

There won’t be any limitations on people being able to inject, she said, but people will be given information about where is safer on their body to inject.

“The purpose of having harm reduction specialists and an RN and a paramedic on site is we can talk about health practices,” Kightley said.

“We will be able to provide resources and tips on how to do so with different methods or different practices to think about health, but like any health service, we get information about what options we have.”

People will now have a safe spot to engage and if they need our help we will be there, said Craig Jones, a commander with Peterborough Paramedics.

“It’s now not happening out on the streets,” Jones said.

“It’s a controlled environment where we can respond and support those individuals without having to take them to emerge.”

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