About Us

Why a Drug Strategy?

Over the past decade, drug strategies have been expanding across Ontario to respond to the impacts of alcohol and other substances, which are felt most acutely at the local level. A drug strategy is a locally-based approach that involves stakeholders from various sectors to identify and address gaps in the local system, with the goal of reducing the negative impacts of substance use for individuals, families and the community as a whole.

4 Pillar Approach

Governments and communities around the world are recognizing that reducing the harms from substance use takes an integrated, cross-sectoral approach. Locally, the Peterborough Drug Strategy has developed a comprehensive strategy for the City and County of Peterborough that focus on the four pillars of prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and enforcement.

Prevention refers to interventions that seek to prevent or delay the onset of substance use as well as to avoid problems before they occur. More than education, prevention involves strengthening the health, social and economic factors that can reduce the risk of substance use, including access to health care, stable housing, education and employment. Examples of prevention include mentoring programs, municipal alcohol policies, and limiting the sale of alcohol. For more information on prevention and health in Peterborough, visit www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca.

Harm Reduction refers to a range of pragmatic and evidence-based public health policies designed to reduce the harmful consequences associated with drug use. Harm reduction includes blood alcohol limits, safe injection equipment and condom distribution, counselling and referrals, etc. For more information on local Harm Reduction services and projects, visit www.parn.ca.

Treatment refers to the programming provided to people already dealing with a substance use issue, with services ranging from a philosophy of total abstinence to one that focuses on managing use. Examples of treatment include residential withdrawal management (“detox”) and outpatient treatment, counselling, and substitution therapies e.g., methadone maintenance therapy. For more information on local treatment options, visit www.fourcast.ca.

Enforcement refers to interventions that seek to strengthen community safety by responding to the crimes and community disorder issues associated with legal and illegal substances. Enforcement includes the broader criminal justice system of the courts, probation and parole, etc. For more information on local enforcement services and programs, visit www.peterboroughpolice.com or www.opp.ca.

Our Story

The Peterborough Drug Strategy (PDS) was born in 2009, by four partnering organizations: Peterborough Public Health, PARN – Your Community AIDS Resource Network, Four Counties Addiction Service Team, and Peterborough Police Service. These organizations were united in their view that collaboration around how addiction is addressed in our community is crucial to supporting the needs of individuals who use substances as well as their families and support people.

Substance use is identified by the community of Peterborough as a key area of concern. A comprehensive plan to reduce the negative effects of substance use is necessary to reduce fragmentation, limit duplication of services and ensure community activities are well informed.

A comprehensive, well-balanced approach requires 4 pillars: prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and enforcement. Organizations and strategies representing these pillars work together with community members towards the goal of a safe, strong, and healthy city and county.

A drug strategy as an approach allows us to create a made-in Peterborough strategy, based on our community’s needs, in order to reduce the harms associated with substance use – on individuals, families, and communities. Our comprehensive drug strategy was completed in 2012 and includes recommendations for action and identifies pathways to improve prevention, harm reduction, treatment and enforcement efforts in the community.

The Peterborough Drug Strategy builds on existing expertise and personal experiences in Peterborough, while also incorporating best practices, research, and lessons learned from other cities in Canada and internationally. The strategy includes representation from all groups and addresses both legal and illegal drugs.

The drug strategy currently works towards raising awareness, reducing stigma, and engaging the community while moving ahead with select recommendations for action and mobilizing change.

The Peterborough Drug Strategy document was finalized in 2012 and was based on a consultation process that engaged stakeholders throughout the city and county. Based on the information that we gathered from our consultations, we compiled a list of 93 recommendations to be implemented in our community. Read the strategy in full here.

Based on the strategy and the recommendations, PDS has received funding and implemented a number of projects. See our projects page for more information on past and current projects.

Mission & Values


The Peterborough Drug Strategy collaborative is committed to the ongoing development and implementation of a community-based drug strategy that aims to reduce the harms related to substance use in the County and City of Peterborough. This strategy works to improve the health, safety, and well-being of citizens with an approach based on the four pillars of prevention, harm reduction, enforcement, and treatment.


  • Collaboration is the key to progress and success in Peterborough.
  • We work from a person-centred framework. Individuals with diverse experiences will be involved in a meaningful way in the development, delivery, and evaluation of research and programs that are intended to serve them.
  • We respect the equality, dignity, human rights, strengths, and choices of people, families, neighbourhoods, and communities. Drug use is value neutral. A person’s worth is neither diminished nor increased by virtue of their drug use.
  • We base our work on research and practices that demonstrate effectiveness. A full range of evidence will be considered, including scientific, community-based, and user experience.
  • We will continue to demonstrate our accountability, showing both to our funders and the community that we are committed to the growth of a stronger, healthier Peterborough City and County.