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Three new supervised injection sites approved for Metro Vancouver

Last Updated May 26, 2017 at 5:49 pm PST

(NEWS 1130 File Photo)
Summary

The Surrey sites will be the first located outside of Vancouver

Montreal and Vancouver will also get one new site each

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The federal government has approved four new supervised drug injection sites, three of them in the Lower Mainland.

Subject to final inspections by Health Canada, Surrey has been granted the go-ahead for two of the four sites. Located at the Quibble Creek Sobering Assessment Centre and the Lookout Society, these will be the first supervised injection sites outside of Vancouver.

“Today’s exemption from Health Canada will allow us to take a significant step forward in engaging with this population,” Fraser Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Victoria Lee said. “We carefully selected both sites based on data analysis that indicated these areas have the highest rate of overdose deaths in the region.”

The 135 A site will be open 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. while the Quibble location will operate between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. every day.

Vancouver will also be getting another six-booth site at the Lookout Society Powell Street Getaway in the Downtown Eastside, where, according to Vancouver Coastal Health, the life-saving service has the potential to make the biggest impact on the overdose crisis plaguing the province.

The facility will be open between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily.

All sites are expected to open in June following facility renovations and staff training and will replace overdose prevention sites currently running in each city.

“We are very pleased today to have received the first three approvals for new sites in the Lower Mainland. With more than 3 million injections at Insite and not one overdose death, we know these new sites will be a critical tool in our effort to save lives,” provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall said.

Montreal will also be getting a mobile site, bringing the total number of consumption sites in Canada to nine between the three cities.

The Metro Vancouver locations will be for the injection of drugs only, something Kendall hopes can be changed to include all forms of consumption.

“All modes of consumption can be dangerous and should be supervised, so it’s incomprehensible to me that there would currently be this restriction on the exemption process,” Kendall said.

The Fraser Health Authority originally applied to allow all types of consumption, but was denied.

The site approvals come as provincial health leaders met with global experts to discuss the benefits of prescribed and provided drugs such as heroin to addicts to curb overdose deaths due to tainted drugs and as a method to treat addiction.

Drug activist Dean Wilson has long called for prescribed drugs, and fought to keep the Insite injection site open in Vancouver.

“All drugs are now toxic and killing people. There’s no other way about it. It’s prescribe, that’s the only answer,” he said.

Last year 922 people died of illicit-drug overdoses in BC, 216 of which were in Vancouver, according to the BC Coroners Service.