British Columbia

Supervised injection site being explored by Interior Health

Chief medical health officer Dr. Trevor Corneil says it's all very preliminary. But the fact it's being considered at all has a harm reduction coordinator with Kelowna's Living Positive Resource Centre, excited.

Chief medical health officer says explorations still very preliminary

A man injects drugs at Vancouver's Insite, the first supervised injection site in Canada. Interior Health has begun preliminary investigations into the feasibility of a supervised injection site in the Interior. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The Interior Health Authority is looking into the possibility of setting up supervised injection sites for drug users.

In a statement, chief medical health officer Dr. Trevor Corneil said that while there are no immediate plans to open such a site, "We are in the very early stages of exploring the feasibility of providing this kind of service."

"Safe consumption sites have been deemed a health service by the courts, and we believe they are a valuable harm reduction tool to help reduce the risk for those living with substance abuse problems," the statement read.

"Safe consumption sites also provide another entry point where people using substances can get connected to treatment services."

Sheila Kerr, harm reduction coordinator with Kelowna's Living Positive Resource Centre, is excited by the possibility of a supervised injection site.

"We are absolutely thrilled that this has become a conversation with Interior Health," she told Radio West host Rebecca Zandbergen. "We would be willing to support it in any way they deem necessary as they roll it out."

The Positive Resource Centre, located in Rutland, provides about 15,000 needles to drug users a month.

Kerr says the new scourge of fentanyl is causing overdoses to happen at a rate she's never seen before and having a supervised injection site with a nurse who can recognize ODs would save lives.

"A lot of people are [injecting drugs] outdoors and in situations where they have to be hurried to avoid the risk of people in the public seeing them or RCMP interference," she said. "When people are rushing or people don't feel like they have that safe place, often that makes it less safe for them. They don't take the time to taste or test the amount of drug that they're going to be using to make sure it's of a potency they're accustomed to."

Kerr says the only model her group has is Insite in Vancouver, and she says if the Interior's site is as effective, there will be less property crime, less drug related garbage and less needle sharing, in addition to more people accessing detox and methadone treatment.

To hear the full story, click on the audio labelled: Interior Health exploring possibility of supervised injection site