Duncan’s overdose prevention site will remain in operation for at least another year.
Island Health recently extended its lease on the site, located at 221 Trunk Rd., until Nov. 30, 2019.
The lease is with the Cowichan Valley branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, which was the only organization that answered Island Health’s request for proposals to run the overdose prevention site.
The CMHA is the existing service provider at the site, and has been providing the service since the facility first began in Duncan in September, 2017.
The overdose prevention site is intended to provide a place where people who use drugs can do so while be safely monitored and treated immediately if they overdose.
The site is part of the province’s response to the opioid overdose emergency that has gripped B.C. in recent years, and is one of nine that has opened on the Island since December, 2016.
Since the site, which originally operated at 714 Canada Ave. until it moved to Trunk Road in March, first opened, more than 18,000 clients have visited and zero deaths have occurred.
Island Health spokeswoman Lisa Murphy said that while the overdose prevention site was supposed to be temporary, there is still no end in sight for the ongoing opioid crisis.
“Our goal is focused on treating people who come to the site and avoid deaths, and also to link them to treatment to help them recover,” Murphy said.
“It’s a positive that the number of deaths as a result of overdoses have gone down considerably thanks to these sites.”
The new lease agreement states that the Canadian Mental Health Association is committed to a respectful, safe and secure operation of the OPS, and to fostering good neighbour relationships with those who live and work near this service.
This includes discouraging congregation in and around the site, and having staff security patrols during open hours and contracted security patrols when the OPS is closed.
Murphy acknowledged that there are still some community concerns with the site, including people congregating there and litter issues, but the site workers have been working diligently with its security and other partners to deal with them effectively.
“The site is still fairly new and we try to address concerns when we receive them,” she said.
“But we have found that some of these problems are attached to situations and people that are independent of our site.”