At least one by-law officer along with a number of Cobourg Police officers arrived shortly after 7 p.m. to the back of Henley’s Arcade and shut down an Overdose Prevent Site (OPS) on Friday, September 1, 2023.
The group regularly meets on the north side of Henley Arcade which is a walkway from King Street to the Covert Street parking lot in downtown.
The OPS is being organized by a group called Tweak Easy and one of the organizers, Missy McLean created a live Facebook post at the Covert Street parking lot shortly after being informed the site had to be shut down due to the by-law.
During the nearly three-minute long video, McLean said, “we’re shocked this is happening right now.”
Each Friday since March 17, 2023, the Tweak Easy group meets at the rear of Henley Arcade from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
During that time McLean said they serve up to 40 people with a meal and harm reduction supplies to marginalized members of the community.
“We have been doing this for months – and something shifted,” McLean said.
“Tonight we have been informed the Town has changed their mind. That we are no longer considered to be a peaceful protest.”
McLean said she had been informed previously by Town Clerk Brent Larmer that it was ok, “to be doing what we were doing.”
Police would even come by occasionally on Friday nights to check in with the group.
“They’ve changed their mind. Apparently the Chief of Police also knows that police are here and they are now choosing to enforce – we’re not even sure which bylaw.”
McLean said the work the group does in the community connecting people who use drugs and letting them access new equipment, “is part of the harm reduction strategy that is so important.”
“It’s disappointing and it’s going to be really hurtful for a lot of people.”
McLean calls on supporters to reach out to Town Council and Police Chief Paul VandeGraaf to ask what has changed to not allow the OPS.
Today’s Northumberland reached out to Police Chief Paul VandeGraaf on Friday evening with no success.