British Columbia

Locations proposed for new supervised injection services in Vancouver

Vancouver Coastal Health says the proposed locations are both in the Downtown Eastside.

Both proposed sites in Downtown Eastside

The "LivingRoom Drop-In" on Powell Street is one of the proposed locations that could be adding a supervised injection service as early as next year. (Kamil Karamali/CBC)

The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority says it has identified two proposed locations where supervised injection services can be provided.

Both locations are already home to services that help drug users.

"It's sort of the opposite model of Insite, where we started with supervised injection and then added some of the other services like detox and addiction," said Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer at Vancouver Coastal Health.

"We are now choosing sites that already offer these services and adding the supervised injection as well."

The first proposed location is the DTES Mental Health and Substance Use Drop-in Centre, also called "LivingRoom Drop-In", at 528 Powell St., which VCH says would cater to drop-in patients 

This health centre on Heatley Avenue in the Downtown Eastside could include the supervised injection service, although it would mostly cater only to its clients. (Dan Imbeault/CBC

The second potential location is the Heatley Integrated Health Centre at the corner of Heatley Avenue and East Cordova St.

That location would primarily serve a limited number of clients, although Daly said the facility's client base will likely increase if the supervised injection service is approved.

"If they came in and they needed to use the service, we will have the protocols that they can use that service," said Daly. "We're certainly not going to turn anyone away."

Both locations are in the Downtown Eastside and a short walk from one another. They're slated to open next year.

8 new booths

Daly says each facility would start off with four booths for supervised drug use, with the Powell St. location possibly expanding to six.

"Both sites will have to undergo renovations," said Daly.

The potentially 10 new booths would add to the 13 already available at Insite, nearly doubling the number of spots for users to consume drugs under supervision.

Insite currently has 13 booths for supervised drug use. (CBC)

Focusing on the Downtown Eastside

Vancouver Coastal Health says the two proposed locations are in the Downtown Eastside because the Insite is overwhelmed with the number of users that walk in every day.

"We've chosen the sites based on where the majority of overdose deaths are occurring, where we're seen the most demand," said Daly.

"A majority of the deaths are still occurring in the Downtown Eastside even though we have Insite operational there."

Daly says that off the 542 calls B.C. Ambulance took from April to August where they had to use  the overdose-reversal drug Naloxone, 42 per cent of those were in the Downtown Eastside.

The "LivingRoom Drop-In" is run by the Lookout Society, a local charity that provides support services.

Keir MacDonald, the group's deputy executive director, says the centre sees anywhere from 300-400 people a day. He expects that to jump up to at least 500 if the location provides the supervised injection service.

"It was actually the perfect opportunity," said MacDonald.

"We were already under a contract engaging in a renovation process, so we were already upgrading some of the services in the facility."

5 sites promised

Earlier this year, Health Minister Terry Lake announced five new supervised injection sites would be opening in Vancouver, but said the locations would not be named until they are approved by Health Canada.

Vancouver Coastal Health says of the three sites that haven't been announced yet, at least two of them will be located outside the Downtown Eastside.

The health authority says it will be engaging with community stakeholders in early October as part of the Health Canada application process to provide supervised injection services.