Vancouver Island’s largest supervised consumption site to open Monday

The Pandora location will be open 13 hours a day, 356 days per year

The next step toward saving lives from potential drug overdoses will soon be available in Victoria.

On Monday (June 18), the doors will officially open at the Pandora Supervised Consumption Centre, in the former St. John Ambulance centre at 941 Pandora Ave. The centre, the largest of its kind on the Island, will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. almost every day of the year. It will offer clean syringes and equipment, fentanyl test strips and 10 well-lit desks for drug users, an area to be supervised by PCP IV paramedics Lillian Gauthier and Scott Sywake.

“We see lots [of overdoses] on the street and we’re kind of excited to be here in this environment and help them,” Gauthier said.

“This is gonna give people the opportunity to come in here and be safe,” said Sywake. There will be many resources available to people, he added, “whether it’s counselling, addiction counselling, seeing the street nurse. Or if they should overdose, there will be a paramedic here and staff members are able to help out right away and provide assistance.”

For SOLID outreach worker David Keeler, the site offers much more than the overdose prevention site hosted temporarily in a converted shipping container next door at Our Place.

“The old place was so cramped; here we have so much room. Even if we have full tables we have room to lay people down and work on them without stepping over people,” he said. “The amenities are great, we have everything we need plus what we had before, so it’s just growing and it’s a great thing. We haven’t lost anyone in these sites.”

Judy Darcy, B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, was on hand to unveil the facility on Thursday. She reiterated that the opening of safe consumption sites is a major part of the effort to reduce drug overdose deaths.

“They save lives because they bring together harm reduction services, clinical services and connect people to the social supports which they absolutely critical need to get onto the pathway to hope,” she said.

Darcy reported that across B.C. there have been over 800,000 visits to supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites. “Over 5,300 overdoses have been reversed and not one single life has been lost.”

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Judy Darcy (centre) said supervised consuption centres save lives at the opening of the Pandora Supervised Consumption Centre. Nicole Crescenzi/ VICTORIA NEWS

On Vancouver Island alone there have been 121,000 visits across nine sites, with 683 overdoses reversed.

Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical officer with Island Health, said one of the most important things to remember is that everyone is affected by the opioid crisis, and the stigma against addiction needs to change.

“This is a chronically relapsing disease of the brain, and it should not be treated any differently than type 1 diabetes or any other diseases,” he said.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

 

Lillian Gauthier (left) and Scott Sywake are both PCP IV paramedics who will be stationed full time at the Pandora Supervised Consumption Centre. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

Just Posted

Sentencing delayed for man who attacked VicPD dog

Uno later recovered from his injury and returned to work

Eco warriors to shut down Douglas Street on Earth Day

Environmentalists to call on banks to divert investments into green infrastructure

Fire damage to Esquimalt building leaves some tenants out for at least six months

Structural damage has barred half of the tenants from returning, while others might move back sooner

Plans to clear-cut old-growth near Port Renfrew causes an environmental outcry

Groups call logging a provincial government ‘blind spot’

Saanich councillor continues to call for permanent funding for Greater Victoria sexual assault centre

Coun. Ned Taylor says funding announced last week will help, but need for permanent support remains

4 victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

John Brittain, 68, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Police probe eight fires set at B.C. elementary school

Nanaimo RCMP say fires appear to have been set intentionally

Inquest into Port Hardy police shooting moved to Campbell River

Family disappointed James Hayward coroner’s inquest rescheduled hours away

Undercover cops don’t need warrant to email, text suspected child lurers: court

High court decision came Thursday in the case of Sean Patrick Mills of Newfoundland

Whitecaps fans stage walkout over club’s response to allegations against B.C. coach

Soccer coach has been suspended by Coastal FC since February

Three climbers presumed dead after avalanche in Banff National Park

One of the men is American and the other two are from Europe, according to officials

Most Read