As the province grapples with an overdose crisis, Vancouver Coastal Health has applied to Health Canada to open two more supervised injection sites in the downtown east side.
Proposed sites would be attached to existing care facilities, one on Heatley St. and the other on Powell St.
The health authority’s Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Patricia Daly, says approval could take a while.
“It would take almost a year sometimes to get a response from Health Canada for approval, we hope that this goes much more quickly. With the change in government last fall, we did have much quicker renewal of our Insite application in the spring.”
Daly says VCH is confident that Health Canada will approve the applications.
She adds that the health authority will be looking to submit more applications in the future, including one for a women’s only site.
For Heatley location, 4 safe injection booths will be added, not open to gen public, only avail for patients attending Heatley Health Ctr— Emily Lazatin (@EmilyLazatin980) October 31, 2016
Proposed supervised injection site on Powell Street attached to drop in centre will be open to public. #bcpoli— Emily Lazatin (@EmilyLazatin980) October 31, 2016
But the Strathcona Business Improvement Association says there hasn’t been enough consultation with local communities.
Executive Director of the Strathcona BIA Joji Kumagai says the organization supports safe injection sites, but there are too many unanswered questions.
“There’s also [the] enforcement and prevention side that I think, from our perspective, we need to have more information of what kind of services will be available… It’s important to realize that there are many other stakeholders and that this kind of support service is providing a service with things like debris and cleanliness and VPD resources.”
Vancouver Councilor Kerry Jang says certain concerns around the additional sites are unwarranted.
“Some people worry that having a supervised injection site will entice children or other people to start trying drugs. It’s really made for people who are already addicted… I’m still getting a few comments from people that it’s going to change their neighborhood, that’s not true, we have not seen that. There are still pockets of people that are still fearful and this is part of our job, to work with those communities.”
Kumagai says several members of the association and residents of the community were unaware of the proposals.