Overdose Prevention Service Established in Duncan

On August 29, 2017 the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) released information to neighbouring businesses and residences about the opening of the Overdose Prevention Services (OPS) at 715 Canada Avenue. According to the background information VIHA provided, an overdose prevention service:

“provides a place where people who use substances can be safely monitored and treated immediately if they overdose. Staff at the site are equipped with naloxone and are trained for overdose response. OPS are temporary services allowed under special Ministerial Order (Ministerial Order M488) under the Emergency Services Act.”

VIHA consulted with City Council on the establishment of the OPS earlier this year. While City Council is generally in support of establishing a local OPS, they do not support the location VIHA has selected. However, special Ministerial Order M488 gives VIHA the authority to establish the OPS in a location of their choosing. City regulations are superseded by the special Ministerial Order.

Did the City get to choose the location of the Overdose Prevention Service?

No, VIHA did not need City Council‘s permission to establish the OPS at 715 Canada Avenue. None the less, City Council advised VIHA that they did not support the location due to its proximity to a residential neighbourhood.

What has been done about discarded used needles in the Cowichan Valley?

VIHA has partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association to collect discarded needles throughout the Cowichan Valley. Since early July, City staff have noticed a marked decrease in the proliferation of used needles.

What has been done about increased petty crime in the Cowichan Valley?

Bylaw enforcement officers will be doing regular patrols of area around the OPS. The City will be monitoring the impacts of the OPS and will advise VIHA if any concerns arise. Bylaw enforcement night patrols have also been increased throughout the City.

Is this the first Overdose Prevention Site on Vancouver Island?

No, OPS sites have been opened for several months in communities across Vancouver Island, including Campbell River, Courtenay, Nanaimo, Victoria, and Port Alberni. VIHA states that there have been very few concerns expressed by the neighbours of these OPS locations in these communities.

For further information about the Overdose Prevention Services, please contact VIHA at 250-331-8639 or visit viha.ca/mho/overdose.htm

Questions for City staff? Contact the Director of Corporate Services at 250-746-6126.