Photograph by Michael Longmire
Lookout Housing and Health Society has been chosen to manage the overdose prevention site in Duncan and North Cowichan.
Island Health made the announcement and says Lookout will take over operation of the existing overdose prevention services in January.
A new safe injection site is to be located at the new Wellness and Recovery Centre on York Road in North Cowichan and is expected to go into operation in June of next year.
Lookout Housing and Health Society is a non-profit organization offering housing, health and support programs to vulnerable people.
It provides harm reduction support at The Harbour in Victoria and in communities across the Lower Mainland.
According to VIHA: “Lookout and Island Health are committed to a safe and inclusive community, and will engage the community to examine service delivery in order to discuss service delivery protocols.”
There will be engagement with community stakeholders through online consultations, meetings, and responses to concerns and questions.
The new Wellness and Recovery Centre will provide primary care, harm reduction, case management, overdose prevention and on-site treatment in a single location.
The decision to include an overdose prevention has generated opposition.
Trustees on the board of the Cowichan Valley School District have requested Vancouver Island Health Authority find a different location for the facility. North Cowichan Council had requested a “pause” while further public consultations are held. A local community action group, A Voice for Our Children, has also called for a pause in proceeding with the Wellness and Recovery Centre.
School District 79 is concerned about the facility being in close proximity to schools and along a route that is travelled by students.
Businesses and residents in the area are concerned it will increase problems related to addiction, such as open drug use and crime.
Cowichan Valley medical health officer Dr. Shannon Waters has said Island Health is listening to the concerns of businesses and residents in the vicinity and will continue working with them to resolve the problems.