Will Surrey allow supervised sites to fight the overdose crisis?
'I hope the public responds in a compassionate and caring way,' says Councillor Vera LeFranc.
The Fraser Health Authority is expected to make its case for a list of harm reduction initiatives in Surrey — including a supervised drug consumption site — when the city council meets on Monday night.
The moves comes after at least 43 people overdosed in Surrey since last weekend.
"I hope the public responds in a compassionate and caring way," said Councillor Vera LeFranc.
"This is a health care crisis and some of the solutions and best practices that Fraser Health is proposing are critical to saving lives and I just hope they accept some of the solutions proposed."
On the front line
Lookout Emergency Aid Society Executive Director Shayne Williams says his staff administered naloxone to eight overdose victims last weekend over the course of an eight-hour shift in Surrey.
He says that kind of work takes an emotional toll on his team.
"It's incredibly hard on the Lookout emergency aid staff, the staff that come to work every day to shelter and house and feed folks," Williams said.
"We're a basic service provider. We're not health specialists, but this is what we're doing."
On the strip
Many of the overdoses happened on a stretch of 135A Street between 108 Avenue and 106 Avenue that locals call "The Strip."
Erin Schulte who runs Pop Up Soup Kitchen visits the area even when she's not providing free meals so that she can check up on her friends.
"It's not really like a head count but I get to see my regulars that I've grown to love over the last few years," Schulte said.
"They'll usually give me news if someone has overdosed or someone is in the hospital."
Becky Jackson, who frequents the strip, appreciates volunteers like Schulte who offer food and friendship.
Jackson says it adds to the sense of community she feels.
"I do feel pretty safe, Jackson said.
And in a strange way, if you are going to overdose, 135A Street is one of the safest places to do it because many people in the area carry naloxone, she says.
"I can pass out anywhere, like, over there for instance and there are blankets put on my umbrellas put over me. I can pass out in the field and someone I didn't know hid my bags for me and stashed them for me."