Victoria closer to getting supervised drug injection facility

Application six months way, followed by about year of advocacy and organization, says councillor

The City of Victoria is months away from applying for a supervised drug consumption site in the downtown core,  says Coun. Marianne Alto.

Alto made the announcement at an all-candidates meeting discussing homelessness, housing and poverty. The meeting, held Thursday at the Downtown Community Centre, was sponsored by three social services agencies.

Alto expects the city to make an application within six months, followed by about year of advocacy and organization.

No site has been chosen.

Supervised drug consumption sites, also known as  supervised drug injection sites, are legally sanctioned and medically supervised facilities designed to reduce nuisance from public drug use and provide a hygienic and stress-free environment for illicit drug users when consuming drugs.

“It’s absolutely essential,” Alto said. “A community supervised consumption service  has all the (services) which will save lives.”

Candidates at the meeting were also asked to stand if they supported a supervised drug consumption site. Only Coun. Geoff Young remained seated.

During question period a recovering addict asked mayoral candidate Stephen Andrew what’s the motivation behind a safe injection site.

“To me, it’s putting a blanket over addiction,” the woman said. “I’m just wondering where the recovery comes in.”

Andrew, who advocates establishing a recovery centre in Greater Victoria, said it involves a two-prong approach: intervention and rehabilitation.

“We can’t just allow people to go into the safe consumption site use and just assume that is going to change the cycle,” he said.

“We need to intervene. If we don’t intervene and assist the people that are using that facility, (drug abuse) is just going to continue. I disagree that we need a safe consumption site by itself.”

The civic election is Nov. 15.