Editorial – Time to Pack up the Tents and Move On

In Editorial

(Today’s Northumberland file photo)

Editorial – It’s been over three weeks since the unsanctioned overdose prevention sites hit Cobourg.

Honestly I had reservations about what it was going to accomplish, but I tried to keep an open mind and learn about it.

After three weeks of trying to understand the goals and objectives I’me done.

But let’s first state why.

Right from the beginning the organizers have not spoken publicly about what they are doing.

Legal or not – it’s unsanctioned and hasn’t been through the proper process.

We at Today’s Northumberland have tried to reach out to the organizers several times and each time it’s met with no response.

Not very open, and extremely hard to learn about the tents if the organizer won’t speak.

With anything the public can see, that is on public property, transparency is critical. Simply put – transparency and communication hasn’t been there from the start.

From that it’s possible to conclude if you are on the “side” of the unsanctioned overdose prevention sites (tents) you are their best friend. But if you raise a question that doesn’t coincide with their beliefs you’ll be cast out. Never to be spoken too again.

Not a great way to get a message out about something controversial.

People that follow Today’s Northumberland will recall the story of a Cobourg man that has overdosed 19 times in the past year.

Unfortunately last Friday just after 7 pm was his 20th time he overdosed at a residence in Cobourg. Thankfully with the help of emergency services he survived.

The reason why we mention this, is a good friend of his helps run the unsanctioned overdose prevention site. But the addict didn’t use the unsanctioned overdose prevention site. So even with his good friend who helps run the OPS, he couldn’t get him to the tent.

It’s absolutely no fault of his friend, but it shows how little these tents actually do.

Today’s Northumberland has managed to speak with a few people privately involved with the organization.

During a conversation with one person they said this, “ People get to make their own choices about when, where, and how they use. The ops is there to reduce harm where people want to utilize it.”

The key words with this is where it states, “the ops is there to reduce harm where people want to utilize it.”

And shortly after 10 pm emergency services once again responded to an overdose at St. Peter’s Church (the warming room) which we believe was just a short distance from where the OPS was actually being run on Friday.

Friday night showed really how little these tents actually do.

If, or when organizers say the number of people who have used the tent/s, how does anyone believe them?

Yes, there has been people stating they work on social media posts for the past few weeks. And there have also been addicts and former addicts that say they don’t work.

There are many, many resources out there.

There is no one I know of that wouldn’t help an addict.

We’ve heard the site on Friday was a few steps away from the warming room?

If that’s the case, do they ingest and then go to the warming room where others watch over them?

Perhaps that is what happened when emergency services were called shortly after 10 pm on Friday.Since the unsanctioned tents sites have started, I’ve been sworn at, yelled at for simply taking video. Even though supporters have taken video. Something that was happening before I even arrived. It clearly shows organizers have an agenda of their own.

If organizers really wanted to start saving lives, they might want to start helping out people who are already on the front lines and saving them. Not setting up decoy tents.

A GoFundMe has been set up to raise funds for the initiative. In approximately three weeks they’ve raised nearly $1,300 of their $2,500 goal by 15 donors. Mostly by friends of the organizer.

The way the Unsanctioned Overdose Sites were set up – from the beginning they were destined to fail.

It’s time to fold up the tent, learn from their mistakes and offer a hand to organizations that are really doing something to benefit people who are in need.

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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