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The Vancouver overdose prevention site has a new location, less than 300 meters away

The new location, situated in the 1000-block Howe Street, will also provide supervised breathing services, stated Vancouver Coastal Health

A controversial supervised drug consumption site in downtown Vancouver, which was the subject of two lawsuits and a lot of complaints from the neighborhood, has found a new location. two lawsuits and a slew of neighbourhood complaints has found a new home.

The Thomas Donaghy Overdose Prevention Site opened in March 2021 on the ground floor of a city-owned building on the corner of Seymour and Helmcken Streets, across from a playground and dog park.

Concerns about the negative impact of the facility on residents led the city not to renew the center’s lease when it expired at the end of March.

Vancouver Coastal Health has been working for months to find a suitable location in the area, which has the second-highest rate of overdose deaths and number of emergency calls in the region after the Downtown Eastside.

On Wednesday, it said it has secured a location less than 300 meters away in the 1000-block of Howe Street in a social housing and emergency shelter complex operated by Community Builders.

“We think this is a good fit with the overdose prevention site because many people in the building are also users of the service,” said VCH deputy chief medical health officer Dr. Mark Lysyshyn.

The new space, which opened Wednesday, is located on the second level of a parking lot in the back of the building. It can be accessed from Howe Street, but does not have street frontage.

“It will be more private for the client and the community,” said Lysyshyn. “We are very hopeful this will work better.”

Overdose Prevention Site

A tent being erected in the parking lot of a social housing building in the 1000-block Howe Street as seen from the alley (Photo by Jason Payne/ PNG)

The outdoor site also allows the health authority to expand its services to include supervised inhalation in order to meet changing need.

More and more people have begun smoking their drugs in recent years instead of injecting it, said Lysyshyn, adding that may have contributed to reports of public drug use at the Seymour Street site, as people may go to the supervised injection site to inject their drugs, but then go outside to smoke drugs as they couldn’t do it indoors.

The new site will be operated by RainCity Housing, the same operators as the Seymour location.

VCH has pledged to be a good neighbour and said the new site will have security, community outreach teams, and litter and needle sweeps.

The health authority has 12 overdose prevention sites in the region, including six that offers supervised inhalation services.

The new Howe Street location will be the fourth supervised inhalation site in downtown Vancouver. The three others — the Overdose Prevention Society on East Hastings, the Powell Street Getaway, also on Hastings, and the SisterSquare tent near Jackson and Powell streets — are in the Downtown Eastside.

Staff at the Seymour site has reversed more than 200 overdoses in the three years it was in operation, said VCH.


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