British Columbia

Mobile consumption sites to open in Kamloops 'for sure within 6 months'

Interior Health told Kamloops city council that it will be several months before two proposed mobile supervised consumption sites will be up and running.

At least one councillor wants quicker action by the Federal Government to open the mobile sites

Interior Health expects two mobile supervised consumption sites to be up and running in Kamloops by this summer. (Chris Corday/CBC)

An Interior Health spokeswoman told Kamloops city council Tuesday that it will be several months before two proposed mobile supervised consumption sites will be up and running. 

Rae Samson said that the mobile sites would be up and running "for sure within six months" if it's approved by Health Canada.

The two sites were first announced in November 2016 as a step towards addressing the ongoing fentanyl crisis. They would offer harm reduction supplies from an RV, small bus, or van and be operated by a health professional.

Samson said Interior Health plans to submit its permit application to Health Canada this month, adding the organization is "trying to be as responsive to this crisis as we can."

But, Coun. Donovan Cavers said he's concerned with what he termed the "glacial pace" at which plans are progressing to get the mobile sites in place.

"This is obviously a crisis situation, basically one person per week died in Kamloops last year, so this is something that needs to happen right away," said Cavers.

"Getting Health Canada to agree to these exemptions is critical to stem this crisis that we have."

In 2016, 40 people died from an illicit drug overdose in Kamloops and 914 people died in all of B.C. 

ASK Wellness executive director Bob Hughes thinks six months is an ambitious time line. His organization has been involved in the conversation with the Province and IH from the beginning.

"There are so many complex pieces that need to be covered off," said Hughes.

"Everything from ventilation within the facility itself, there's the issue of where does it plug in because it can't sit idle in the summer without having air conditioning going, and when and where does it go."

Kamloops city councillor Donovan Cavers raised concerns about the pace (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

'It's pretty shocking that they can't move more quickly'

British Columbia declared a public health emergency after a surge in overdoses in April 2016.

"Another six months is basically a year from when the emergency was declared ... it's pretty shocking that they can't move more quickly," Cavers said.

The sites would be among the first mobile supervised injection services in Canada.

For more stories from Kamloops, join the CBC Kamloops community on Facebook