The controversial Nanaimo pop-up injection site that has been operating in the parking lot of City Hall since Boxing Day is switching locations.
City Councillor and local homeless activist Gord Fuller says Island Health and the City of Nanaimo are working to move the site to a temporary spot at 437 Wesley Street, an existing supportive housing building.
Fuller says the operation sees about 20 drug users a day, and requires two to three volunteers or staff on hand.
“We do that to ensure that if there’s an overdose there’s someone there to administer the Narcan right away, and the other person would be there to make phone calls, and the third person could preload a second needle of Narcan if necessary to get to the first person, if the first shot doesn’t work.”
He says right now Island Health is in the process of hiring enough employees.
“The level of drugs that are out there right now are nothing like what was out there 10 years ago, even five years ago, four years ago. They’re dangerous, people are dying and they’re dying far more often than they used to,” says Fuller, adding his city has the highest overdose death rate per-capita in the province.
Fuller says the level of support from the community in the form of volunteers and donations has been overwhelming.
But not everyone has been on board.
Nanaimo’s City Manager closed two buildings at city hall over safety concerns the day after the site opened, before reopening with higher security.