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Rally to save Sudbury’s consumption site happening Nov. 30

As funding for Sudbury’s supervised consumption site runs dry, community groups are coming together to call for more support for the harm reduction project
As funding for Sudbury’s supervised consumption site runs dry, community groups (and at least one graffiti artist) are coming together Nov. 30 in Memorial Park to call for more support for The Spot.

The countdown to the end of funding continues at The Spot, Sudbury’s supervised consumption site, but supporters hope that a rally Nov. 30 will demonstrate the need for that funding. 

To be held in Memorial Park (on the side nearest to the YMCA) at 4:30 p.m., the event is billed as a rally and banner drop. 

For the last few months, The Spot has been pushing for the provincial funding they applied for two years ago. 

Though staff has told in previous interviews they are unsure why the funding was not approved earlier, the province is pointing to a shooting that took place at a consumption site in Toronto in July as a reason to re-evaluate every site in Ontario. 

Réseau ACCESS Network executive director Heidi Eisenhauer has called the shooting a scapegoat used by the province to justify not funding sites.

"We recognize we've lost hundreds and hundreds of lives here in Sudbury, and this is a crisis,” she told The Trillium, describing the politicians who stood up to applaud the decision to pause future funding as “shameful.”

The Spot, (Minoogawbi, La Place) held its official opening July 21 of last year, but due to staffing shortages, couldn’t open until September 2022.

In the early stages of  development, members of the Community Drug Strategy proposed 12 unsuccessful locations. Deliberations took months and resulted in advocates opening an unsanctioned temporary site in the interim, STOPS (Sudbury Temporary Overdose Prevention Society) before The Spot could open its doors.

The Spot has been awaiting funding from the province since it began its operations. Lacking provincial dollars, it ran on $1.094 million from City of Greater Sudbury coffers, as well as $100,000 from Vale and $30,000 from Wheaton.

That funding runs out on Dec. 31.  

But even with funding shortages and location limitations, The Spot appears to be making a difference. 

Between Sept. 28, 2022, and Aug. 31 (the opening of The Spot and the last date of a recent study) a total of 470 unique clients accessed The Spot, representing 1,181 total visits and 1,605 total consumptions. The Spot reversed a total of 20 overdose (toxic poisoning) events, and no overdose required emergency medical services. 

And the opioid crisis in Sudbury shows no sign of slowing. 

Since 2018 there has been a 346-per-cent increase in opioid overdose deaths in Sudbury compared to 60 per cent in Ontario. At least 112 Sudbury and Manitoulin residents died from an opioid-related overdose in 2022, an average of nine people a month, and 78 fatalities have occurred to August of this year. 

The Spot’s staff also work to reduce the transmission of infectious diseases, and connect individuals with social and healthcare services.

They also provide basic testing services to help people who use drugs identify unknown adulterants in their supply, which do not respond to typical overdose treatments. 

Amber Fritz, manager of consumption services at The Spot, has always been specific that the supervised consumption site is not the answer to the opioid crisis; it is a tool to be used to keep people alive while the crisis gets solved. It’s one way — and a highly effective one, addictions experts say — to stem the seemingly never-ending tide of lives destroyed or foreshortened. 

Meta studies, while they rely on qualitative data, have found that supervised sites not only show a reduction in hospital costs and visits, as well as lowered fatalities due to toxic poisoning, they demonstrate an increase in community well-being, both with people who use drugs and the larger population. 

Although the city’s elected officials and local NDP MPPs have advocated for provincial funding, none has come. 

The City of Greater Sudbury’s draft budget, which was tabled in November and will be debated by city council in December, will not include funding for the supervised consumption site.

In fact, when asked, there was no indication that city councillors would advocate for continued funding

And so, The Spot launched an advocacy campaign, built to raise awareness of the need for the site. It has also been an opportunity to bring together the groups that consider the site essential; there have been letters of support from Greater Sudbury Police Chief, Paul Pederson,  Public Health Sudbury and District (PHSD), the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), NOSM University, Sudbury District Restorative Justice

As of publishing, a petition on had collected 1,256 signatures. 

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter with She covers the diverse communities of Sudbury, especially the vulnerable or marginalized, including the Black, Indigenous, newcomer and Francophone communities, as well as 2SLGBTQ+ and the downtown core.

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Jenny Lamothe

About the Author: Jenny Lamothe

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter with She covers the diverse communities of Sudbury, especially the vulnerable or marginalized.
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