The controversial overdose prevention site located at 715 Canada Ave. is moving and feedback has been strong — not just about the location but about the very existence of the service.
Dr. Shannon Waters, a medical health officer with Island Health, said the site will move to a leased location at 221 Trunk Rd., across from Duncan Mall, on April 7.
She said the location on Canada Avenue, which opened Sept. 12, is “greatly exceeding site capacity” and, in addition, the current lease on the property has expired.
She noted the new site will provide more space while the search continues for an even more appropriate site.
But what exactly is appropriate?
“I think no matter where it is the community will have a negative response,” wrote Lena Williams on the Citizen’s website. “Residential areas. Schools and parks. It may be a safe injection site but still carries unsavory attraction to said areas.”
She was right about the response: a mix of compassion and anger.
Earl Simon Edwards saw a conundrum.
“At least its not around next door to childrens parks nor daycares or schools,” he noted. “Although a few blocks away, local businesses will be locking up bathrooms just like businesses around York does [sic] due to the addict traffic in the area.”
Some argued it was too close to the high school but in fact, it’s the same distance as the current site.
“What exactly are people afraid of this being near(ish) to the high school? Do you think that drug users attack people? People are going to use wherever they want, if we have an OPS [overdose prevention site] at least they have somewhere safe and off the streets to use,” said Stacy Middlemiss. “We need to stop hiding behind excuses of it being too close to this or that…truth is society doesn’t want it to exist period. I wish we didn’t need it either, but we do.”
Brenda Irving summed it up, saying “There will always be those who find fault with the location or the addicts themselves. Just be glad you aren’t one!”
—With files from Robert Barron