Pubdate: Wed, 30 Nov 2016
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016, West Partners Publishing Ltd.
Author: Kathy Michaels


A Kelowna safe injection site should be up and running by April,
although what it will look like remains to be seen.

Interior Health proposed two potential options last week - a fixed
injection site at 477 Leon Ave. as well as a mobile site - and now
they're embarking on the final community engagement process.

The final phase of the application will be submitted to Health Canada
once that's over, said Dr.Trevor Corneil, chief medical health officer
with Interior Health, adding that the federal minister of health has
offered every indication they want to move swiftly.

It means safe injection services will be made available nearly a year
from when opioid overdose deaths rose so high in number that it
prompted a state of emergency.

To date, there have been more than 200 overdose deaths

"When you say it's a health emergency, 12 months is a long time to
come up with something, but wewill take a service that will make an
impact whenever we can," Corneil said.

Twelve months is also somewhat remarkable when you consider the
history of safe injection sites in Canada.

It took five years to get Health Canada to approve Insite, which in
2003 opened in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside to help address an
epidemic of HIV and hepatitis C.

The previous federal government spent years trying to shutter the
facility, though the Supreme Court of Canada eventually ruled that
closing the facility would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
by preventing drug users access to health services.

Canada's second injection site, the Dr. Peter Centre, was given the
green light in January, marking seven years since approval was first
sought, said Corneil.

The Dr. Peter Centre isn't entirely the same as Insite, as it
integrates the safe injection services into its existing clinic and
offers a broad range of health and social services for patients living
with HIVwho also deal with mental health issues, homelessness and 

And the proposed sites in Kelowna and Kamloops will be different

For one, they're on a much smaller scope, which could make it more
adaptive to the community's needs - something the health authority is
trying to confirm now, speaking to the street population to learn
whether they'll even use the service.

There will also likely be blowback from the business community. The
Downtown Kelowna Association has already stated their view on the
proposed fixed location site.

"The DKA is opposed to a supervised consumption site being located on
Leon, at the proposed 477Leon location or anywhere else in that area,"
said Dan Allen, president of the DKA.

"It has been the DKA's number one priority for years to make that area
safer for our members and the public, and to revitalize that area for

"The DKA is seriously concerned that a supervised consumption site at
that location will undermine public safety in the Leon area and will
present a roadblock to revitalization."

Mayor Colin Basran has also raised questions about the location,
namely whether it will bring more drug users to the area.

"Using published evidence and data that Vancouver has shared with us,
those areas have not experienced an increase of users around site,"
said Corneil.

"In the direct vicinity of the sites they find the number of
maladaptive behaviours Â…littering of needles and so onÂ… decreases," he

"We've also spoken to business association in Vancouver. I remember
the Chinatown business association and Downtown Eastside business
association were opposed to the idea when (Insite) was introduced, but
they came around and supported it after a few years."

The service, he explained, gave drug users a place to go and shoot up
other than in front of their shops and stores.

"Nobody wants that if they are a business owner," said

"And anybody who owns a business doesn't want someone dying on the
front steps of their business, either."

Corneil said that they hope to get more information to those most
affected in the days ahead.

"We are looking forward to opinions," he said.

"This is not a done deal. We know people will be opposed."
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