Vancouver City Council is voting on a long list of items as it seeks to combat the opioid crisis.
One item is a ‘Drinker’s Lounge’ for people with alcohol addiction.
“Will the city essentially be funding a bar, will alcohol be paid for?” wonders the NPA’s Melissa De Genova.
The pilot program would be managed by the Portland Hotel Society in the Downtown Eastside.
De Genova says she’s neither for nor against it but says it needs to be done right.
“Is the city allowing them to provide substances to the people coming into the lounge? Will there be supports and resources there, to take someone to treatment bed if they say ‘I want to detox now’?”
She says the lounge should have resources like they do at Insite.
On Tuesday, a presentation to Councillors said the pilot aims to bring alcohol and cultural support to Aboriginal people.
City councillor Kerry Jang says the lounge would be for alcoholics who consume the kind of alcohol found in drug stores, not bars.
“It’s meant for people for example who are drinking non-beverage alcohol such as hand sanitizers, and Listerine.”
While alcohol is different from opiates in the sense it’s legal and widely available, Jang says it would be about getting people long-term help.
“Bring these people in to get some actual beverage quality alcohol, but at the same time get them in contact with services and to help them manage what their addictions are.”
Councillors would set aside a $35,000 grant to PHS for the program.
With files from Matt Lee