A drug consumption site in Leslieville, Toronto recently took down a poster offering chocolates to the public in exchange for used needles after a photo circulated online.
The poster, which hung in a window of the South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) for several hours on Sunday near Queen St. East and Carlaw Avenue, was spotted by Crestview Strategy Partner Ginny Roth, who posted it on X (formerly Twitter).
“If you live in Leslieville and you’re concerned about your kids picking up needles that surround the drug consumption site, you don’t have to worry,” wrote Roth. “In fact, if your kids collect enough they can trade them in for chocolate!”
Roth told True North that she walked by the poster on Sunday morning with her three-year-old son on their way to a nearby playground.
Roth said that by Monday morning, the poster had been taken down.
“In an exuberance to get used needles off the street one of our staff posted a sign that was never meant for the public, said SRCHC CEO Jason Altenberg in a statement to the National Post. In no way, shape, or form was that communication meant for children.”
“We apologize for any miscommunication.”
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre also reacted to the poster.
“This is an actual sign from a drug consumption site in Toronto,” wrote Poilievre. “What is happening in Canada?”
The SRCHC’s “COUNTERfit” Women’s Harm Reduction program is an injection site offering a “trans-inclusive” and a “sex-work positive” space for all women who use drugs.
Last month, 44-year old mother of two Karolina Huebner-Makurat was killed by a stray bullet following an altercation near the SRCHC’s main operating building on Queen Street East.
Several people who live in the area have reported seeing more drug paraphernalia in the neighbourhood since the site first opened six years ago.
Parent Ashley Kea told CTV News last month that her son had found a bag of fentanyl on the way to Morse Street Junior Public School.
“Safe injection sites cannot come at the cost of the safety of hundreds of children,” she said. “They overdose in front of children, dealers sell in front of children, and now they are pulling their guns in front of children.”