Nova Scotia

Cape Breton's first overdose prevention site to open in Ally Centre

The Ally Centre will receive $250K over the next 2 years to establish a safe space for drug users in Sydney.

Ally Centre, Direction 180 receive 2 years of funding from Nova Scotia Health

A close up picture of fentanyl tablet split in half with powder showing.
Nova Scotia Health says 50 people died of opioid overdoses in the province in 2020. (CBC)

The Ally Centre in Sydney will soon be home to Cape Breton's first overdose prevention site.

The centre will receive $250,000 in funding over two years from Nova Scotia Health to establish a safe space for those who use drugs. Staff will also connect people with support systems to help with their addictions.

"For those folks, it's going to make a big difference because they're safe," said executive director Chris Porter.

"For the community, it'll also make a difference because they're going to get connected to help, and I really feel that any harm reduction program is beneficial to the community and to the people that it serves."

Halifax-based Direction 180 has received the same amount to continue operating its overdose prevention site, ReFix.

Nova Scotia Health said 50 people died of opioid overdoses in 2020.

The Ally Centre will hire 3 people to work at the overdose prevention site, which will be open 7 days a week. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Porter said she expects 10 to 15 people to visit the overdose prevention site daily when it opens inside the Ally Centre.

She doesn't have a timeline, but said the hope is to have it up and running soon. Three staff members with lived experience will be hired to work at the site.

"It's another opportunity to employ people who find themselves pretty much unemployable in our society today," said Porter.

When people visit the site, staff will encourage them to use available resources, such as housing supports.

"It takes some time to build a relationship to get into details with folks, but hopefully they'll feel comfortable enough surrounded by people with lived experience that these issues will come up, and they'll be able to help move them forward," she said.