Island Health is seeking public feedback on plans to open two safe consumption sites in Victoria.

Island Health is seeking public feedback on plans to open two safe consumption sites in Victoria.

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

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Island Health is expected to begin public consultations soon on its controversial plans to open a new wellness and recovery centre at 5878 York Road. (File photo)
Public consultations on Duncan wellness and recovery centre coming in February

Controversial facility on York Road scheduled to open in June

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Providence Health Care has teamed up with partners, including Island Health, to launch the first remote cochlear implant (CI) mapping program for adults in British Columbia. Duncan’s Alan Holt was one of the first to test it out. (Submitted)
Remote cochlear clinic offers shorter commute for patients like Duncan’s Alan Holt

Duncan man one of the first to test virtual mapping program

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

ICBC has seen savings on crash and injury claims in the COVID-19 pandemic, with traffic on B.C. roads reduced. (Penticton Western News)
ICBC opens online calculator for rate savings starting in May

Bypassing courts expected to save 20% on average

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
16% boom predicted for B.C. real estate sales in 2021: experts

Along with sales, the average price of homes is also predicted to rise, by nearly 8 percent

The trial of Harry Richardson began Monday at the Nelson courthouse. File photo
Trial of man accused of shooting RCMP officer in West Kootenay in 2019 begins

Harry Richardson is facing five charges in a Nelson courtroom

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

Brad Windsor has been an advocate for years to get sidewalks installed along Milburn Drive in Colwood, but to no avail. He wants city council to commit to making Milburn a priority lane for sidewalk construction in the future. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash caught on B.C. home security camera

Angry residents say video highlights need for sidewalks in B.C. residential neighbourhood

An independent review is underway at the Royal BC Museum after employees called out systemic, individual racism at the institution. (Twitter/RBCM)
Royal BC Museum faces allegations of systemic racism, toxic work environment

Formal investigation, survey and training launched at museum

In this May 23, 2012, file photo, an approximately 2-year-old female cougar runs away from a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife trap after being released northeast of Arlington, Wash. A cougar has attacked and severely mauled a man in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Mulligan/The Daily Herald via AP
Cougar euthanized in B.C. after severely mauling a man north of Vancouver

Whistler RCMP officers were first on the scene and shot and killed a cougar prowling nearby

Dex needs surgery after breaking his paw in the panic caused by an apartment fire. (Submitted)
Dog needs surgery after escaping burning North Island building

Fundraiser started for veterinarian costs after Dex breaks paw dropping from upper floor apartment

Most Read