Where should the overdose prevention site in Duncan go?
Thinking people in the community understand why it’s a good idea to have one. It’s about harm reduction, and has proven effective in a number of areas, not the least of which is that it saves lives. The Duncan OPS has been well used since it opened in 2017 and has seen no deaths. Only the very least compassionate among us would say we should just leave those with addictions to die without even trying to save them. The numbers we’re talking about are stark: 31,000 clients since it opened; 250 overdoses reversed as of May.
But the location is a conundrum — one that so far has not been solved.
So far, two different sites have proven to be unacceptable, the first on Canada Avenue and now the second on Trunk Road. Both were in commercial areas, but close to residences, and people living near the sites voiced complaints about littering of needles and other drug paraphernalia, disruptive behaviour, and problems with theft. It’s completely understandable that people don’t want to deal with these things around their homes.
But the site has to go somewhere. So what would make the location right? Some have said they’d like it gone from Duncan altogether, but this, of course, won’t solve the core problem of the opioid crisis, and won’t even remove it from the community. The site must be accessible and thus centrally located. While there isn’t a part of the Valley that has escaped from the opioid epidemic, it has been centred in the Duncan area. This is clearly where the service should be offered. But the site should be isolated enough so as not to encroach on neighbours who are just trying to live in peace or run businesses. Clients must be able to walk there, as many don’t have vehicles. It’s a specific and important list of must-haves. Is there such a place in our small community?
The short answer is that there has to be. There probably won’t be a perfect spot found, but we can’t afford not to have the service.