Island Health’s search for a new home for its overdose prevention site, currently located on Trunk Road, continues. (File photo)

Cowichan’s overdose prevention site still seeking new home

Site one of busiest on Island

The search for a new home for the Overdose Prevention Site on Trunk Road has not been successful to date.

Island Health, which is responsible for the site, issued a Request for Proposals for a new location in the Cowichan Valley in October.

But Island Health said in a press release this week that the search continues for a new site.

“In consultation with local stakeholders, Island Health continues to seek a new location and service model to better meet the needs of those who use substances in the Cowichan Valley, and mitigate community impacts,” the release said.

“We continue to explore new locations for an improved service model which includes stronger connections to services and supports, such as treatment.”

RELATED STORY: DUNCAN’S OVERDOSE PREVENTION SITE TO MOVE

The Valley’s OPS site, which is being run by the Cowichan Valley branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, is intended to provide a place where people who use drugs can do so while being 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 have opened on the Island since December, 2016.

The OPS in Duncan, which operated on Canada Avenue before moving to 221 Trunk Rd. in April, 2018, has been averaging 622 visits per week over the last three months, making it the busiest of all the OPS sites on Vancouver Island that are in rural and suburban areas.

RELATED STORY: ANOTHER YEAR ADDED TO DUNCAN’S OVERDOSE PREVENTION SITE

But neighbours have complained of thefts and trespass on their properties, overnight vagrancy, loitering, trash and needle littering, and loud and lewd aggressive behaviour on the streets related to the site.

Island Health acknowledged in October when it announced that it was looking for a new site that the current location on Trunk Road does not meet community or client needs in the most effective way.

RELATED STORY: NEIGHBOURS OF DUNCAN OVERDOSE PREVENTION SITE UPSET ABOUT THEFT, PUBLIC SEX, LITTERING

The lease on the location on Trunk Road was set to expire at the end of November, 2019, but it has been extended until the end of July, 2020, as Island Health continues to look for a new location.

“In the interim, we are grateful for the CMHA for agreeing to continue to provide OPS services at the current location on Trunk Road,” the news release said.

“Island Health is committed to providing uninterrupted overdose-prevention services for people who use substances in the Cowichan Valley and is working with people who are concerned about the community impacts to mitigate their concerns.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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