VIHA has put out a request for proposals to staff the Island’s first supervised consumption service slated to open at 914 Pandora Street in spring 2018. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Victoria gets approval for supervised consumption site

This will be the first permanent facility on Vancouver Island

Health Canada has given its approval to a new supervised consumption site opening in Victoria.

It will be located at 844 Johnson Street and is intended for residents and registered guests to help prevent and reverse overdoses in the region. This is the same location now used as a low-barrier housing facility the Province bought and renovated as a home for those that had been living in ‘Tent City’ behind the Victoria courthouse.

Read More: Police keeping close eye on Johnson Street community

“Supervised consumption services reduce harm from drugs and save people’s lives,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer. “The opioid crisis has been devastating for our Island communities and it is our responsibility as health care providers to offer more supports and resources where they are needed.”

The new consumption site will be the first permanent one to open on Vancouver Island and will be operated by Island Health and PHS Community Services Society. It will immediately begin offering supervised consumption services.

Read More: Island Health pushes forward with supervised consumption sites

A temporary overdose prevention site has been operating at the same location for the past year, but officials hope this new permanent operation will become part of a distributed, multi-site model in Victoria, and will strengthen links with treatment and recovery services both within the Johnson Street building and among other community-based services delivered by Island Health and other agencies.

“We are thrilled that services provided at Johnson Street will become a permanent part of a network of sites in Victoria,” said Jennifer Breakspear, Executive Director, PHS Community Services Society. “This will ensure ongoing access to supports that are desperately needed in our community, and will be an important addition to the continuum of services and support we provide to Johnson Street Community residents.”

The site will include a registration area where people can access harm reduction supplies, a consumption area that is monitored by trained staff, and a post-use area for further monitoring and engagement.

According to Island Health, there are currently nine temporary supervised consumption sites/overdose prevention sites in its service area. Over the past year there have been more than 66,200 visits to these with 579 overdoses and zero deaths.

Another site application at 941 Pandora Avenue was approved in August. That site requires further renovations and is expected to open in the spring/summer of 2018.

More to come…

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