VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver city councillors are being asked to approve a permanent overdose prevention site Yaletown.
In a report to council, staff recommends establishing a supervised consumption site on the ground floor city-owned building “to meet the demand for services in the Granville corridor and West End.”
If approved, the space at Seymour and Helmcken Streets would be leased to RainCity Housing and Support Society which began operating a mobile prevention site in the area in summer of 2020.
“The permanent, indoor location … will offer a safe and accessible space from which to deliver life-saving overdose prevention and harm reduction services in order to help address the ongoing overdose crisis,” the report reads.
Council will consider the report Tuesday.
The Yaletown location has been chosen “in recognition of the increased street activity in the Granville area that has arisen since the start of the pandemic,” according to the report.
“VCH and the City continue to work together to address the gap in harm reduction and overdose prevention services in the neighbourhood. The people who use in the Granville area represent a different demographic than in the Downtown Eastside, where most overdose prevention services are currently located. VCH has identified the need for another overdose response service in this neighbourhood that will provide people who are addicted to illicit drugs with a safe and life-saving space to use and access to other social supports.”
The number of people who have died from illicit drug overdoses has spiked amid the pandemic.
There have been 1,068 illicit drug deaths to date in 2020 in B.C., based on preliminary data. The total number of illicit drug deaths in the first eight months of the year surpassed the total for all of 2019. BC Emergency Health Services reports close to 7,500 overdose calls throughout B.C. this past summer, making it the highest number of overdose calls ever recorded in a three-month stretch.
The report points out a decline in overdose deaths prior to COVID-19 was seen in part due to the increase of overdose response and prevention services.
“This demonstrates the effectiveness and necessity of continuing to advocate and collaborate with partners for additional overdose prevention sites and services in underserved areas where people are at high risk for overdose and overdose death,” the reports reads.