Security around the Overdose Prevention Site on Trunk Road will be taken over by Blackbird Security as part of the Safer Community Plan.
The community-based Safer Community Plan is a project to address crime and disorder in parts of the downtown core that is being spearheaded by the City of Duncan, the Municipality of Cowichan, RCMP, Island Health, Cowichan Tribes and other community partners.
A joint statement from all the groups and organizations states that the inclusion of the OPS in the Safer Community Plan reflects the partners’ shared commitment to addressing community concerns and strengthening community safety and security surrounding the site.
The City of Duncan and Island Health will jointly manage the security services for the site and neighbourhood.
Blackbird Security has been working to ensure community safety along the TCH corridor between Beverly Street and Boys Road since September as part of the Safer Community Plan.
The OPS 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.
“We are pleased to collaborate with the City of Duncan to provide security and improve safety for the clients accessing services at the OPS and for the neighbouring community,” said Island Health spokeswoman Keva Glynn.
“This is part of our collective work with the City of Duncan, Municipality of North Cowichan, Cowichan Tribes and others to address community impacts while offering health services for people living with substance use.”
Island Health announced in October that it is looking for a new home for Duncan’s OPS because the current location does not meet community or client needs in the most effective way.
The joint statement said Island Health continues to search for an alternative location for the service that will continue to meet clients’ needs while mitigating the impacts on business and residential neighbours.
“We all recognize the challenges our community has been experiencing as a result of the opioid crisis, and we are doing everything we can to improve safety and well-being of the impacted neighbourhoods,” said Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples.