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Island Health Not Prepared to Relocate Wellness Centre

Island Health is rejecting a request to have the overdose prevention site in the Cowichan Valley Wellness and Recovery Centre on York Road relocated.

North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas and Cowichan Valley School District Board Chair Cathy Schmidt co-signed a letter to the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions asking for a new location to be found.

The letter also seeks an extension of the OPS operating hours to 24 hours a day while that happens.

Island Health says the centre provides a number of important services, such as a safe and welcoming drop-in space with harm reduction supplies, support and education.

The OPS provides witnessed consumption for rapid overdose responses, referrals and links to other services for mental health, substance use, primary care, addiction medicine, treatment and recovery options.

Island Health says its teams are working with Lookout Housing and Health Society to mitigate concerns over crowds gathering near the site.

It wants to balance the safety and security of neighbourhoods with the growing need for mental health and substance use services.

The hours that the OPS is open have now been increased to 12-hours a day to help accommodate the number of people using the facility.

Island Health says it plans to work with the community, including the mayor and council, to find the best possible solution.

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