The City of Victoria is pushing for more safe inhalation sites. (Flickr)

City of Victoria pushes for more safe inhalation sites

Council explores harm reduction tactics to combat opioid overdoses

Victoria councillors are advocating for more supervised inhalation sites in an effort to increase harm reduction strategies within the opioid crisis.

In a motion forwarded to council this week, Coun. Marianne Alto, Coun. Sarah Potts, Coun. Jeremy Loveday and Coun. Ben Isitt, ask the Province, local health authorities, the Ministry of Health and Addictions and the Ministry of Health to provide more observed inhalation sites for people smoking illicit – and possibly tainted – drugs.

“There are many folks in our community who deal with addictions and drug use, and that takes many forms,” said Alto. “We’ve noticed that there’s a significant portion of people who smoke … It’s the second most common way they consume drugs.”

Vancouver Island’s largest supervised injection site, The Harbour, opened at 941 Pandora Ave. in June 2018, but the location does not offer safe inhalation services.

ALSO READ: Pandora supervised consumption site has busy first month

“When that opened up it worked really well … it did the job, which was to keep people from dying,” Alto said. “The same argument can be used for a supervised site for injection as for one for safe inhalation.”

Rock Bay Landing is the only location in Victoria with a safe inhalation tent, which was installed a year-and-a-half ago as part of its overdose prevention services.

“Anything you can smoke can potentially be laced,” said Joann Connolly, manager at Rock Bay Landing, “People were smoking around the building and not in a designated area, and in wet weather there was an increase of people trying to sneak smoking into the building.”

READ MORE: Victoria councillors push for access to safe drugs

Connolly noted when people were scattered, it was hard for staff to keep track in case anyone overdosed.

The drug inhalation tent sits in the Rock Bay Landing courtyard, but its simple design has been very effective, Connolly said.

The white pop-up tent is the typical kind seen at any local event; it’s weighed down and has clear walls on three sides that allow staff to observe smokers from a distance.

Drugs, just like anything else, have trends and in the past three years smoking drugs has become a lot more popular.

“People believe injecting heroin puts you at greater risk, so smoking it has become more popular, though of course it can also be laced with fentanyl,” Connolly said. “Crystal meth has also become more popular.”

Since the tent was installed, Rock Bay Landing has seen significant success.

“It’s been excellent. The overdoses have gone down dramatically, and when they happen they’re typically in the courtyard,” Connolly said. “I think it’s a great service, it’s well-used and it saves lives, and that’s what it’s all about.”

The proposed motion is not specific to more tents or a different site. If passed on Thursday, the motion will be forwarded to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities in April, and the Union of B.C. Municipalities in September before the province can take any action.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at car dealership in Campbell River turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

Horgan heckled as gas prices sit at record high, could go up more

Premier John Horgan blames refiners, not taxes

Home care transition could exacerbate worker shortage: Seniors advocate

Advocate fears impact of eight-hour shift model on an industry under stress

Tofino beckons Trudeau back for Easter vacation

Environmental group hopes latest Pacific Rim vacation inspires change in prime minister

Many teens unaware if they’re vaping nicotine or not

Health Canada survey finds many youth are unaware of the risks of using nicotine products

VIDEO: ‘Alarm bells’ raised by footage allegedly from B.C. pig farm, SPCA says

PETA released video Wednesday showing dead and injured piglets next to nursing piglets

Police charge 27-year-old male in Langford shooting

Justin Lemmen was arrested shortly after the shooting after crashing into a truck

Good Samaritans rescue Sidney senior trapped under mobility scooter

78-year-old broke her pelvis and spent a week in hospital after the accident

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Woman who was chased and tackled after break-in sentenced on Vancouver Island

Natasha Geraldine Harris, 28, was sentenced to time served and will be released from jail

Most Read