Saanich council is taking action addressing the overdose crisis locally.
On Jan. 25, council approved a motion by Couns. Ned Taylor and Karen Harper outlining five steps to address the opioid crisis – including directing staff to engage with local health and non-profit organizations to discuss possible action Saanich can take such as establishing safe consumption site; calling on upper levels of government to take action; and appealing for a federal action plan that reflects how other countries have reduced drug-related deaths.
The meeting was an emotional one for Taylor as many families with personal connections to the opioid crisis called in to speak during public input.
Several mothers who’ve lost their children shared “very moving” accounts and for Taylor, it was “a reminder of why this is so important.”
There was some very touching public input at tonight’s #Saanich Council meeting in response to @CouncllrNTaylor & @KarenInSaanich’s report and recommendations related to addressing the #OverdoseCrisis that has impacted so many people in our community and beyond.
— Rebecca Mersereau (@RJMersereau) January 26, 2021
Harper and Taylor also asked that Saanich voice support Vancouver’s decriminalization efforts and call on other local governments in the region to take action. An amended version of the recommendation calling for support of decriminalization of simple drug possession in general was approved.
Staff will be working with Island Health and various advocacy groups to determine the best ways for Saanich to take action, Taylor said. It may include bringing supervised injection sites to the municipality and increasing public education about overdose risks.
Education would help “eliminate stigma for drug users” and highlight the fact that anyone of any age or financial status can experience addiction, he said.
I want to publicly thank my #Saanich Council colleagues @CouncllrNTaylor + @KarenInSaanich for bringing forth their report on how @Saanich can be a part of the solution in addressing the opioid pandemic.
A 9-0 vote is a powerful statement of our solidarity on the issue. #yyjpoli
— Colin Plant (@ColinPlant2018) January 26, 2021
Mayor Fred Haynes was pleased to see council support the work, as this crisis comes down to “lives being lost daily in B.C.”
Governments of all levels need to stay focused and committed to taking action as families are being “devastated” by the loss of loved ones, Taylor said. “I personally don’t think the overdose crisis is getting the attention it deserves.”