Pubdate: Mon, 01 May 2006
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Times Colonist
Author: Rob Shaw
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Safe Injecting Rooms)


Victoria And Vancouver Could Work Together In Face Of Tory Opposition

Victoria may ask to "piggyback" off the success of Vancouver's safe 
injection site in order to one day get its own, says mayor Alan Lowe.

Just how the two cities can work together on safe injection and harm 
reduction strategies for drug users is one topic to be discussed by 
Lowe and Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan during a meeting today, said Lowe.

A united strategy may be the best way to deal with the federal 
Conservative government, he said. The Tories have indicated a 
reluctance to allow the sites, first approved when the Liberals were 
in power, where users can obtain clean equipment and inject drugs 
such as cocaine and heroin under medical supervision.

Vancouver's Insite facility in the city's downtown east side -- the 
first of its kind in North America -- is nearing the end of its 
three-year pilot project status this fall. Research suggests it has 
reduced the spread of disease and overdoses among the most at-risk 
users. However, public drug use remains a problem and became the 
focus of a police crackdown in February.

Victoria is still mulling over options for its own site to serve an 
injection drug population estimated at 1,500-2,000 users.

Lowe said it could be easiest to ask to join Vancouver's project 
renewal process, thereby making one application for safe injection 
sites in both Vancouver and Victoria.

"I may very well see if we can piggyback," Lowe said. Victoria has 
already based its harm reduction policies on Vancouver's four-pillars 
approach -- prevention, treatment, housing and enforcement. Safe 
injection falls under the treatment pillar.

During last year's municipal elections, Lowe promised to move forward 
on a safe injection site in 2006. "One can still hope," he said 
Sunday, adding the new federal government has altered timelines.

In Victoria, a feasibility study on the benefits of starting a safe 
injection site was recently finished by Richard Stanwick, Vancouver 
Island's Chief Medical Health Officer. It is now being reviewed by 
Vancouver Island Health Authority CEO Howard Waldner.

Lowe and Sullivan's meeting comes on the opening day of a global 
conference on drug harm reduction in Vancouver.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman