Duncan’s overdose prevention site on Trunk Road will stay in place for at least another year. (File photo)

Year in Review: Duncan overdose prevention site deemed successful so far as opioid crisis continues unabated

Duncan site has helped thousands of clients since it opened

The opioid crisis made itself felt in the Cowichan Valley in a number of ways in 2018.

In Duncan, the city’s overdose prevention site reported thousands of visits with no deaths since it began operations in 2017.

Island Health opened the site on Canada Avenue in September of that year before moving it to a larger building on Trunk Road last spring mainly to keep up with the growing demand for its services.

RELATED STORY: HUGE DEMAND SEES DUNCAN’S OVERDOSE PREVENTION SITE MOVING TO TRUNK ROAD

Last month, Island Health extended its lease with the Cowichan Valley branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association to operate the site for another year.

The CMHA has been providing the service since the facility first began in Duncan.

RELATED STORY: ANOTHER YEAR ADDED TO DUNCAN’S OVERDOSE PREVENTION SITE

The overdose prevention site is intended to provide a place where people who use drugs can do so while being safely monitored and treated immediately if they overdose.

The site is part of the province’s response to the opioid overdose emergency that has gripped B.C. in recent years, and is one of nine that has opened on the Island since December, 2016.

Since the Duncan site first opened, more than 18,000 clients have visited and zero deaths have occurred in that time.

According to the statistics, between January, 2016, and June, 2017, there were 283 overdose deaths across the Island Health service region, including more than 25 in the Cowichan Valley.

But the site has provoked controversy since plans for it were first unveiled.

Residents who live near the site when it was located on Canada Avenue feared it was going to negatively impact their neighbourhood when preparations to open were being made.

RELATED STORY: NEIGHBOURS SAY DUNCAN OVERDOSE PREVENTION SITE A BLIGHT

Many worried for the safety of their families, crime, rampant drug use and loss of property values if the site was opened, and claimed Island Health had not properly consulted with them before moving ahead with their plans.

But when the province declared an overdose emergency in 2016, it allowed health authorities special powers to try and deal with the seemingly intractable issue, including establishing the sites where it deemed them necessary, regardless of concerns that may be raised by local communities.

However, many of the neighbours complained about partying around the Canada Avenue location after hours with people in the back alleys and in Centennial Park shooting up and making them feel unsafe in the middle of their own community. This was a factor in the decision to move the site to the more commercial neighbourhood on Trunk Road.

Island Health spokeswoman Lisa Murphy told the Citizen when the lease was renewed for the Trunk Road location that while the overdose prevention site was supposed to be temporary, there is still no end in sight for the ongoing opioid crisis.

“Our goal is focused on treating people who come to the site and avoid deaths, and also to link them to treatment to help them recover,” Murphy said at the time.

“It’s a positive that the number of deaths as a result of overdoses have gone down considerably thanks to these sites.”

Murphy acknowledged that there are still some community concerns with the new site, including people congregating there and litter issues, but the site workers have been working diligently with its security and other partners to deal with them effectively.

“The site is still fairly new and we try to address concerns when we receive them,” she said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Two of Chemainus photographer Marston’s images picked among National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Strong winds up to 100 km/h for parts of Vancouver Island

Wind warning in effect for north, east and west Vancouver Island into Saturday morning

Prolific offender arrested in “dynamic takedown” in Crofton

Lower Mainland man facing at least six charges

Swing Shift an enthusiastic collection of professional and amateur musicians

School visits by the band keeping the jazz tradition alive with young people

VIDEO: U.S. Congress to probe whether Trump told lawyer Cohen to lie

At issue is a BuzzFeed News report that about negotiations over a Moscow real estate project

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered B.C. girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

The fire at the 150-year-old Murray United Church in Merritt was considered a possible hate crime

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Man blames his loud car radio, sirens for crash with B.C. ambulance

Tribunal rejects bid to recoup ICBC costs after crash deemed 100-per-cent his fault

Ferry from Port Hardy to Bella Coola expected to set sail this summer

Its first in-service route will sail in central coast waters on May 18, 2019.

Most Read