Why I can not support them and what we are doing about them in our community.
I support harm reduction. I support a compassionate society where we care about our neighbours and community. We can do more as a community. We can do more as a government. I know I can do more myself. But we must follow the law. As mayor, I swore to make decisions in the best interest of the community as a whole. As mayor, I am bound by strict legislation and procedure. I, however, want to make it abundantly clear why I cannot and will not support an illegal consumption site.
There are ways to have a legal consumption site opened in Cobourg. The reason we don’t to date is because the medical health experts haven’t indicated we need one in Cobourg. The local health unit has indicated other communities that may be in need of a legal consumption site but they have not indicated Cobourg as one of those communities. The group of volunteers who are operating the unsanctioned overdose prevention sites have unilaterally decided we do and took it upon themselves to do as they wish without following any of the rules, procedures or applicable laws that are in place. These sites are not managed by medical health professionals, are unable to provide professional counselling and are not subject to the regular inspection or strict adherence to proven policies that a legal consumption site would be. The operation is not reinforced by other services, operators are not in touch with the local health unit and they are not in any way shape or form working with the larger community that should also has a say.
I also need to stress that as elected leaders if we start allowing these types of ‘resistance’ operations to obtain their end goals through force, if we turn a blind eye and do not use the bylaws available to shut these sites down as we are doing to the best of our ability, if we encourage people from our community and those from others to abandon proper procedures by allowing them to continue operating in a ‘grey zone’, we are choosing as elected leaders to set a dangerous precedent moving forward.
We have a housing crisis, does that mean we just allow people to build homes wherever they want, however they want without regard for the Ontario Building Code? Do we allow people to rent out rooms that have no fire exit or safety measures? No, we look at ways to speed up development, safely, and with support and collaboration from levels of government, community organizations and residents.
I and others can be 100% supportive of harm reduction and still be against these illegal consumption sites. This is not an all or nothing game. We will continue to pressure those behind the sites to shut them down immediately and pursue the legal course to open a site if that is what they should choose.
I understand the emotional and human side of the argument. That is not up for debate. I wanted to share with you the answers the incredible AI tool, ChatGPT provided when prompted on the following two questions. I think allowing Artificial Intelligence to explain the logic and reasoning as to why an elected official can not condone an unsanctioned overdose prevention site will help to take the emotions and personal bias out of the equation.
For those who are unfamiliar with ChatGPT, I encourage you to look it up and become familiar as this technology is in the process of revolutionizing our society each and every day. https://openai.com/blog/chatgpt
As an AI language model developed by OpenAI, I must clarify that supporting an illegal safe consumption site would be contrary to the law and ethical principles. Elected officials are expected to uphold the law and act in the best interests of their constituents. Supporting an illegal safe consumption site would be a violation of their responsibilities as elected officials and could result in legal and ethical repercussions.
That being said, there may be reasons why an elected official would not support the establishment of a safe consumption site, even if they recognize the potential benefits of such a facility. Some of these reasons may include:
- Legal and regulatory concerns: If a safe consumption site operates without proper legal authorization or regulatory compliance, an elected official may not be able to support it. This could include concerns about the legality of drug use, licensing and permits, and compliance with local health and safety regulations. Elected officials have a responsibility to ensure that any facility operating in their jurisdiction is in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
- Lack of community engagement: Elected officials may not support an illegal safe consumption site if there has been a lack of community engagement and input. Community members and stakeholders should be involved in the decision-making process, and their concerns and perspectives should be taken into account. If a safe consumption site is being established without proper community engagement or support, an elected official may be hesitant to support it.
- Public safety concerns: Another reason an elected official may not support an illegal safe consumption site is due to concerns about public safety. Without proper regulation and oversight, an illegal safe consumption site may not have adequate security measures in place, which could pose risks to the users, staff, and the surrounding community. Elected officials have a responsibility to prioritize public safety and may not support a facility that operates outside the legal framework.
- Liability and accountability: Elected officials may have concerns about the liability and accountability associated with an illegal safe consumption site. If the facility operates without proper legal authorization, there may be legal and financial implications for the elected official and the local government. This could include potential lawsuits, fines, or other legal consequences, which may be a legitimate concern for an elected official.
- Ethical considerations: Lastly, elected officials may have ethical considerations that prevent them from supporting an illegal safe consumption site. As public servants, elected officials are expected to uphold ethical standards and act in the best interests of their constituents. Supporting an illegal facility may go against these ethical principles and compromise the integrity of their role as elected officials.
In conclusion, while safe consumption sites may have potential benefits in addressing issues related to drug use, supporting an illegal facility would be contrary to the law and ethical principles. Elected officials have a responsibility to uphold the law, ensure public safety, and engage with their communities in decision-making processes. If a safe consumption site is operating illegally, elected officials may not be able to support it due to legal, regulatory, community engagement, public safety, liability, and ethical concerns. It is essential for elected officials to carefully consider these factors when making decisions related to safe consumption sites or any other policy matters.