Island Health targets two Victoria locations for Canada’s second and third safe consumption sites

Officials pick areas with the highest concentration of overdoses to create safe space for addicts to consume in controlled surroundings

Downtown Victoria and Rock Bay have been identified as sites to establish two new supervised consumption sites for the region.

On Tuesday, Island Health announced it’s looking at a distributed, multi-site model for Victoria to allow people a safe and clean environment to inject drugs. They will also be provided with public health services, mental health and substance use supports and referrals, engagement and connection with other social and health services.

According to Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s chief medical health officer, most overdoses in Victoria occur near the two sites at 941 Pandora Ave. and 2920 Bridge St. From Nov. 2 to Nov. 12, there were 26 overdoses in the Rock Bay area alone.

There have been 44 overdose deaths in Victoria this year so far.

“The overdoses aren’t going away and by and large they’re concentrated in those two areas. These are two locations where we can do a lot of good by having this medical service available,” Stanwick said.

“It’s another tool that we have in our toolbox to reduce overdose deaths . . . Rather than seeing this as a negative, it should be seen as a positive.”

When people come to the sites, they will be provided with clean needles and supplies, and can go into one of the five to 10 injection booths at the site, where a trained professional will oversee them to ensure there’s no sign of an overdose.

Then the individual will go to a chill out area to ensure there’s no delayed reaction, at which point staff will engage with health and social services issues. There will also be a third private location at the former Central Care Home on Johnson Street, which was recently set up to house former residents of tent city.

Advocates have been calling for a supervised consumption site in Victoria for many years. Bruce Wallace, assistant professor at the University of Victoria and a collaborating scientist with the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C., said it has been a long time coming, and hopes the services will be culturally safe for people who use drugs.

“We have the highest rates of overdoses in the province. We have very high rates of public injecting. We really want to make sure these are services that can meet the volume of need, that they’re adequately funded and that they’re culturally safe in that the people who use the services are engaged in the service delivery,” he said, adding he hopes the site will also offer safer substances such as prescription heroin in light of drugs like fentanyl.

Canada’s only supervised consumption site called Insite is located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

There, more than three million injections have taken place in the past 15 years without an overdose death.

Acting Victoria police chief Del Manak is optimistic the initiative will reduce public drug consumption, reduce the discarding of supplies in public spaces and reduce reported incidents of public disorder, he said in a release.

Stanwick acknowledged there will be some public backlash to the idea, but said the sites will not draw people to the area because it is in the area where most users will already be — those who use the services won’t travel far distances to take advantage of the service.

Island Health hopes to submit an application to Health Canada by the end of the year for approval. In the coming weeks, Island Health will be seeking feedback on the proposed sites.

There will be two drop-in public meetings on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at the Centennial United Church from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the following night at city hall from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feedback can also be provided by email at scs@viha.ca or through an online survey at viha.ca/scs until Dec. 2.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Possible COVID-19 exposures were reported at Maple Bay Elementary between April 12 and 15. (Google Maps screenshot)
Possible COVID-19 exposure reported at Maple Bay Elementary

Exposures may have occurred between April 12 and 15

”It was an angry welcome for Cowichan-Ladysmith MLA Jan Pullinger when she arrived in Lake Cowichan Monday to open her constituency office. She was greeted with some of her long time supporters calling her a ‘liar’. Left to right, Jan Pullinger, Director of Area I, Lois Gage, school trustee Rolli Gunderson, school trustee Pat Weaver, Save our School Committee Chairperson, Tara Daly.” (Lake News/April 17,1996)
Flashback: Garbage, geography and tragedy

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan?

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Parking permits for people with disabilities

These permits are issued to the person, not the vehicle owner or driver.

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Most Read