British Columbia

New shelter space opens in Kamloops, equipped with safe-injection room

Officials with ASK Wellness Society, the operators of the facility, says the safe-injection site is an important part of the project, which begins taking residents Nov. 12.

'We need to reduce that stigma. The opposite of addiction is connection,' say operators of the facility

Osborne House, on the outskirts of Kamloops, B.C., is a new, fully functioning supportive housing complex. (Jenifer Norwell / CBC)

A former industrial work camp in Kamloops has been transformed into a collection of 55 supportive housing units, which includes a safe space for drug users.

Officials with ASK Wellness Society, the operators of the facility, says the safe-injection site is an important part of the project, which begins taking residents Nov. 12.

"If they're using, we'd like them to consider using the medical room. Using then becomes an opportunity to have conversation," said Kim Galloway, the director of housing with ASK.

Osborne House, on Mission Flats Road in Kamloops, just outside of downtown Kamloops, offers a low-cost space to rent, but also three meals a day, and a sense of community, said Galloway.

"Some of these people we're bringing in have had no opportunity for a healthy connection with their community," said Galloway. "That's what we're going to provide."

Rooms 150 sq. ft

All 55 single occupancy rooms are identical and roughly 150 sq ft. or 14 square metres. They come with storage spaces, wardrobes, windows and complete bathrooms.

Osborne House also has a dining room, and a medical room.

Each room is equipped with a needle disposal unit, but the occupants are encouraged to use in the shared medical room instead.

Galloway hopes that the injection site will help residents connect with staff and reduce any sense of hopelessness or isolation they may feel.

"We need to reduce that stigma [around drug use.] The opposite of addiction is connection," said Galloway. 

Mission Flats is relatively isolated from the rest of Kamloops, and the society's executive director, Bob Hughes, said there will be a shuttle service that runs between Osborne House and the city.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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