A new supervised inhalation site is coming to downtown Victoria to help combat an increasingly toxic drug supply, Island Health revealed Thursday (Oct. 14).
The satellite service will open sometime in November on an unoccupied city-owned lot at 926 Pandora Ave. to help expand services currently offered at The Harbour. The existing supervised consumption site is located across the street at 941 Pandora Ave., where space and ventilation don’t allow for inhaled consumption.
Open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily with space for up to 15 people at a time, the temporary location will consist of a covered area with ventilation. Staff will have supplies, such as pipes, and other resources on hand for clients. Additionally, fencing and greenery will be installed to decrease the site’s visibility.
Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s chief medical officer, told Black Press Media the site’s ventilation system will create negative and positive air pressure. This will ensure exhaled substances do not circulate in the general area and staff are protected from smoke, he added.
In a media release, Stanwick emphasized the need for an inhalation-focused overdose prevention service to “help save lives and improve peoples’ connections with health care services.”
“Over the last year, about two thirds of (overdose) cases on the Island were from inhalation,” he stated. Data from the B.C. Coroners Service shows smoking has been the most common mode of consumption since 2017.
The temporary location is expected to serve Greater Victoria for approximately 10 months. Island Health has been seeking a permanent inhalation site for over a year, but until a long-term solution is secured, the space at 926 Pandora Ave. will fill the gaps in consumption services.
“We’re willing to provide city-owned land on an interim basis while Island Health develops a longer-term solution,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said in the release. “This temporary solution will support people where they are at and will save lives.”
Island Health will also be increasing funding to add more security and a street ambassador with lived experiences at the site.
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