Toronto Centre Safety Forum
Central Neighbourhood House, 349 Ontario Street, July 31, 2019
Remarks from Conservative Candidate Ryan Lester:
"The part of Superintendent Moreira's remarks that struck me the most is that he is constrained by the policies enacted by decision-makers. Yet none of the decision-makers who have been elected in Toronto Centre, at any level of government, are here tonight. I think that's shameful.
I'd like to start by thanking John and Anne for organizing, all of you for coming out tonight, for sharing your stories, and for being dedicated to finding a solution to this crisis.
My name is Ryan Lester, I've lived on Mutual Street for more than a few years, right in the middle of the Toronto Public Health site on Victoria Street and this neighbourhood. And I'm your Conservative candidate for this riding of Toronto Centre in the Federal Election this October.
I attended the Safety Walk last year, the Community Meeting at 51 Division recently, and it's my pleasure to be here tonight.
In the time since Street Health and other Overdose Prevention Sites (OPS) sites first opened their doors, I have seen a spike in both public drug use and publicly discarded needles.
Countless incidents of violence and property damage, in this area especially, have led to residents feeling unsafe in their homes, on the streets, and in parks and other gathering spaces.
It is clear that Canada has a national addictions crisis that requires a comprehensive response and I believe that given the opportunity and appropriate supports, Canadians who suffer from addiction have the ability to recover.
It is tragic that we have failed these Canadians to the point where injection sites are often the only focus of discussion instead of a comprehensive approach to addiction.
Canadians expect safe and healthy communities, which is why our previous government passed The Respect for Communities Act, giving police, residents, and municipal leaders a say when it comes to opening an injection site in their community.
The over-concentration of injection sites in the downtown east side puts service users at increased risk of further victimization by the drug dealers who prey on their vulnerability.
The Liberal government has had years to enact heavy mandatory minimum sentences to crack down on drug traffickers. Again, we have seen nothing.
This issue is a priority of mine and I am committed to finding a solution that will work for service users, site operators, and the communities where they are located.