People who inhale illicit drugs now have a new service located within an existing supervised consumption site in Victoria.
Located within the The Harbour, Victoria’s safe consumption site on Pandora Avenue, the new space is the largest fully enclosed indoor inhalation site of its kind in North America. The site is part of a larger Wellness and Recovery Centre service model that allows those who use to access other health-care services.
“The unpredictable poisoned drug supply continues to take lives at a tragic, unacceptable rate across B.C., including in Victoria,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
“More than half of the people who are dying consumed toxic drugs by smoking. This indoor inhalation service is part of our government’s plan to continue increasing access to life-saving services and connecting more people to care.”
As of the end of October, the toxic drug supply has claimed the lives of 2,039 people in British Columbia this year, with 130 of those deaths in Greater Victoria.
The new supervised inhalation service opened Dec. 12 and replaces a temporary site that was opened in November of 2021. The temporary site has averaged over 700 visits per week.
“The new indoor inhalation space will be a significant component of Island Health’s goal to reconfigure The Harbour into a Wellness and Recovery Centre,” said Leah Hollins, Island Health board chair.
“The Wellness and Recovery Centre will be fully implemented in phases over the coming months and is based on the Cowichan Valley Wellness and Recovery site, which provides harm reduction, overdose prevention, access to medication-supported therapies and treatment, on-site basic health services and connection to Island Health on-site mental health and substance use services,” she added.
Moving forward the new centre will operate from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will be able to host 24 people at a time. It will continue to be operated in partnership with Island Health, Lookout Health and Housing Society and SOLID Outreach.