Victoria’s first “overdose prevention site” has seen nearly 270 visitors since it opened its doors last week.
Don Evans, Executive Director of Our Place Society where the pod is located, says fortunately there hasn’t been an overdose since Thursday.
“It’s been pretty steady through the holidays. We’ve been, you know, probably averaging about 30 to 40 people each day accessing it through the holidays.”
But, even though the site is right outside, some people are still doing drugs in the building’s bathrooms.
“People are used to hiding out and using secretly and privately, and so I think it will take a little time before they feel comfortable going out in the open and using. It changes the way that they are using and removes the shame and the stigma, is what we hope,” Evans says.
He adds it appears the site is drawing people from across the city, not just the neighbourhood.
“I do expect that a lot of people that are coming in to use the overdose prevention pod are coming from outside, that wouldn’t normally be coming and using our facilities.”
Earlier this month, the province announced plans to skirt federal regulations holding up the creation of new supervised injection sites by opening a number of “overdose prevention sites” around the province.
Evans says a permanent supervised injection site – like Insite – is expected to be given the go-ahead in the next three to six months.
Until then, this mobile unit will stay in place.
Overdose deaths in Victoria are more than three times what they were last year, and the city ranks third in B.C. with 60 fatalities
The island has seen the greatest increase in OD deaths per capita – up 153% over last year.