Marchers react to people in an office building they passing who applauded them as they walked down Johnson Street during the Not One More Death Memorial March to push for the creation of a supervised cosnumption service ( a place where drug addicts can obtain clean drug use apparatus and inject in a safe environment). This type of site would reduce deaths and health issues related to stret drug use. Marchers walked from Centennial Square to the Johnson Street Parkade where a local drug user recently overdosed.

Support growing for supervised consumption services

It’s been two-and-a-half years since a community campaign was launched to build a Supervised Consumption Services (SCS) site in Victoria.

It’s been two-and-a-half years since a community campaign was launched to build a Supervised Consumption Services (SCS) site in Victoria to help prevent deaths from drug overdose.

And now organizers of the Yes2SCS campaign feel they are one step closer towards turning that goal into a reality thanks to signs of change in federal legislation and talks with local stakeholders.

According to Dr. Richard Crow, Island Health’s executive medical director, the health authority has always supported the concept of a SCS being part of a range of prevention, treatment and harm reduction services/support for people living with addictions, but requires support from every level of government.

Crow said the health authority has not been part of local discussions thus far because it was clear such a service would not be approved by the federal government. The newly elected government, however, has indicated it will likely take a new approach to the legislature framework surrounding supervised consumption in Canada.

“We now are seeing signals from the new federal government that the legislation will change and we look forward to the opportunity for further discussion and to working with governments at all levels, as well as other stakeholders,” said Crow, noting the health authority has already been working with community partners to better meet the needs of the marginalized population, such as the distribution of Naloxone kits through street nurses and outreach teams.

“If such a service were to be established and operated by Island Health, it would require substantial financial and operational resources, which would need to be considered against other competing priorities.”

The Yes2SCS campaign is comprised of health care professionals, researchers, community activists and social workers who’ve been building community support, along with promoting positive perceptions of people who use drugs and equity in health and social services.

According to campaign organizers, the criminalization of drug use and users causes people to hide and use alone because they are afraid of being arrested and humiliated by police. Supervised consumption, however, allows people to use in safer conditions with clean supplies under the supervision of nurses. If they overdose, there’s someone to take care of them.

Last Thursday, more than 100 people gathered in downtown Victoria for a memorial march that ended at the Johnson Street Park where a man died from a drug overdose in late December. The man was found to have a mixed cocktail of drugs in his system, including morphine, heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine.

His death was among eight suspected drug overdoses in the Greater Victoria area in the span of a week, sparking calls from outreach groups for immediate action.

Alex Holtom has been a member of Yes2SCS for a year-and-a-half. Working at an emergency shelter in Victoria, she estimates there are between two to three overdoses a week.

“We are seeing so many overdoses…this is really needed. There’s a lot of push for this in the community,” said Holtom, adding Yes2SCS should begin negotiations this year with the city, Island Health and Victoria police for establishing a service.

“We’re certainly committed to working with all levels of government…but it’s about them working with us and getting them to work with us. That’s been a struggle, but I think in the next couple of months we’re going to see some discussions happening and I’m really hopeful to see how those turn out.”

Victoria Coun. Jeremy Loveday was one of the people who participated in last week’s march. He said the city supports safe consumption sites, but it’s time for Island Health to come to the table and lead the charge.

“Either you go forward as the health authority or with the health authority’s permission, you set it up and you ask for help for support,” said Loveday. “These deaths are tragic and preventable…I just don’t see any reason why we’re not moving forward immediately with SCS in Victoria.”

A public forum will be held on Feb. 24 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the City Hall antechamber.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Emily Harris (centre) started the in-person Monarch Moms meet-up groups in July, when it was much easier to physical distance in outdoor spaces. Harris started the group as a source of connection for women navigating the ups and downs of having a baby during a pandemic. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Victoria new mom group navigates challenges of motherhood in a pandemic

Monarch Moms meet once a week for physically-distanced connection

The Takaya inspired sculpture currently in Kent Laforme’s outdoor studio. The 25,000-pound piece of Vancouver Island marble could be installed on Cattle Point. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Stone Takaya sculpture could soon ‘howl’ at Cattle Point

Oak Bay inviting public suggestions for 25,000-pound marble sculpture

Joanne Smith has been visiting Goldstream Provincial Park since she moved to Langford two years ago. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Visitors flock to Goldstream Provincial Park for 2020 salmon run

‘I wanted to come here before I move back to Australia,’ says visitor

Police closed McNeill Avenue after a workplace death Oct. 20, 2020. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Tree-pruning community gathers in Oak Bay after tragic death

Crews met in solidarity at site of Tuesday incident

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Jordan Naterer, an electrical engineer from Vancouver, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. (Facebook photo)
Search efforts to resume for missing Manning Park hiker; Trudeau speaks on case

PM says he’ll do what he can to ‘nudge’ efforts to find Jordan Naterer, yet has little leverage locally

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

École de L’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
B.C. records first COVID-19 outbreak at school, six weeks after students return to class

Three cases of the virus have been identified at École de L’Anse-au-sable

Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau is seen as she leaves media event during a campaign stop in West Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green leader hopes voters see value in minority government

The Greens received nearly 17 per cent of the popular vote in 2017 yet received just three seats

Local candidates Pam Alexis, Abbotsford-Mission, and Preet Rai, Abbotsford-West, look on as NDP Leader John Horgan main streets in Abbotsford, B.C., Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. NDP takes snap election risk during pandemic in quest for majority government

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said the election was unnecessary and irresponsible during the pandemic

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, B.C., on October 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. Liberal Leader maintains confidence as campaign tests party identity

Liberal campaign has been disrupted by controversy

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Most Read