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

fentanylsafe injection site

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

 

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

HarbourCats players celebrate winning the North Division Championship Series in 2019. (Christian J. Stewart/File Photo)
Victoria HarbourCats locked out of team Facebook page

Management hires legal team to solve issue

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan Bui (left) and Kairry Nguyen at the end of the trial that found Tanessa Nikirk guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Nikirk is back in court for her sentencing hearing. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Court hears letter from driver convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Victoria police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

Victoria police are looking for high-risk offender Douglas McPherson. (Courtesy of VicPD)
UPDATED: Victoria police arrest high-risk parolee with history of bank robbery

Citizen alerts cops after spotting parolee on Pandora Avenue

(Black Press Media file photo)
Police arrest suspect in Saanich liquor store break and enters

Windowpane removal key component in string of thefts

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

Most Read