Skyrocketing overdoses at 900 block of Pandora in Victoria leads to Island Health alert

WatchIsland Health issued an unusual warning this afternoon. Unusual in that it's directed just at a single block of downtown Victoria, where multiple people have overdosed in the past 24 hours. Mary Griffin reports.

For the first time ever, Island Health is issuing an overdose alert that targets one small part of downtown Victoria.

Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick said the alert is in response to skyrocketing overdoses in the 900 block of Pandora.

“What we have been made aware of, at least eight overdoses occurring, either inside the supervised consumption site or in the immediate vicinity,” Dr. Stanwick said.

The street is home to more and more campers as a shortage of shelter beds forces more people onto the street. And the concentration of people is contributing to a spike in drug use.

“Something of significance is posing a risk that is going beyond our current levels to not only respond but the likelihood of increased mortality on the street,” Dr. Stanwick said.

The City of Victoria recognizes that the 900-block Pandora is a problem.  Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe said there are so many services needed in that specific area.

“Ultimately we do need more services. Maybe not all in the same area. We need a distributed model. And we need more housing, both affordable and supportive. And we need more supports,” Thornton-Joe said.

“A contributing factor in today’s overdose picture may be that this is the day on which cheques are administered to individuals on assistance,” Dr. Stanwick said.

Stanwick says so far there are no fatalities, but the concern is that there may be even more overdoses before the day is done.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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