Registered nurse Sammy Mullally displayed a tray of supplies to be used by a drug addict at the Insite safe injection clinic in Vancouver, B.C., in 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Registered nurse Sammy Mullally displayed a tray of supplies to be used by a drug addict at the Insite safe injection clinic in Vancouver, B.C., in 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Saanich supports to call for action to address, draw attention to overdose crisis

Conversation to include supervised injection sites, public education campaign

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.”

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.

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.”


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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

District of Saanichoverdose crisis