Duncan’s controversial overdose prevention site will move from its current location on Trunk Road. (File photo)

Concerns force Duncan’s overdose prevention site move

Island Health looking for new site due to vagrancy, loitering, needles, lewd behaviour and more

Duncan’s overdose prevention site is looking for a new home.

Island Health, which is responsible for the site, has issued a Request for Proposals for a new location in the Cowichan Valley.

A press release from Island Health said that through site operations and conversations with local leaders and community members, the health organization agrees that the current Trunk Road location does not meet community or client needs in the most effective way.

RELATED: Theft, drugs, aggression and public sex plaguing Duncan overdose prevention site?

“Island Health is issuing an RFP to find a location that minimizes community impacts, while improving linkages to treatment and other supports,” the release said. “The RFP only addresses location and does not affect the current service contract.”

The overdose prevention site is intended to provide a place where people who use drugs can do so while being safely monitored and treated immediately if they overdose.

The site is part of the province’s response to the opioid overdose emergency that has gripped B.C. in recent years, and is one of nine that has opened on the Island since December, 2016.

The OPS in Duncan, which operated on Canada Avenue before moving to 221 Trunk Rd. in April, 2018, has had thousands of visits and zero deaths have occurred due to overdose.

But neighbours have complained of thefts and trespass on their properties, overnight vagrancy, loitering, trash and needle littering, and loud and lewd aggressive behaviour on the streets related to the site.

RELATED: Island Health hits reset on Port Alberni’s overdose prevention site

The press release said that overdose prevention sites are a recent tool and Island Health continues to learn about the best way to provide this essential health service that saves lives, reduces harm and links people to treatment and recovery services.

“Island Health understands concerns around the location of these services and is committed to working collaboratively with our community partners to mitigate the impact to surrounding neighbourhoods, while also recognizing the services must be located near people who rely on them,” the release said.

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