Yonge and Dundas safe injection site sparks concerns

There's concerns from the community that one of the city's safe injection sites is too close to where young children play. 

The site located within the Toronto Public Health building at 277 Victoria Street is directly across the street from Yonge Dundas Square, which is considered one of the country's biggest intersections - let alone the biggest in the city. And as NEWSTALK1010 drove past the area Wednesday morning, there were dozens of children in the area. 

Ryerson University has confirmed that none of the children in their summer day camps are being taken close to the injection site. 

"They do not travel to or near Victoria and Dundas," Elise Cotter, the school's media relations officer told NEWSTALK1010. "Campers are dropped off and picked up in the Kerr Hall Gymnasium, which is located just off Gerrard."

But Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam confirmed she has heard complaints coming from Ryerson students and staff, as well as nearby St. Michael's Choir school for boys, which has found discarded needles on their school property. 

"I think that we should be very honest about what has happened," she said. "We are seeing far more open drug activity and drug use that's actually happening in the streets."

Wong-Tam said what could help the situation is extending the hours of the safe injection site, increasing services there or moving the site altogether, but ultimately that's only a band aid solution. She has already asked City Council to adopt a 12-month immediate action plan. 

"We've asked for funding for eight additional harm reduction outreach peer-to-peer workers, [as well as] more mental health and addictions training at the staffing levels, and to build more support for the local community."

She said it all comes down to having long-term affordable housing to help get homeless people off the streets, as well as additional mental health and addiction support funding from the new provincial government. 

Meantime, in regards to the 277 Victoria Street site, Toronto Public Health informed NEWSTALK1010 in an email that there have been no complaints from concerned parents.

"We have not been notified of any problems related to children in the area," they said.