SURREY — Fraser Health has announced it is proposing two sites for supervised consumption services in Surrey to help tackle the ongoing overdose epidemic.
One site is proposed at the 94A Street Quibble Creek Sobering Centre, and another on 135A Street in partnership with Lookout Emergency Aid Society.
Fraser Health says the site on 135A Street will be located in a temporary building behind the Gateway Emergency Shelter, adjacent to Health Solutions (the SHOP Clinic) which provides outreach and HIV care.
Both locations will provide medications to treat opioid addiction (suboxone and methadone), according to the health authority.
“The proposed sites and service model in Surrey are the result of a detailed data review examining where the need is greatest as well as extensive initial consultation with the City of Surrey, Surrey RCMP, the Surrey Board of Trade, Surrey School District and other community stakeholders including potential users of the services,” notes a Fraser Health release.
In the coming weeks, Fraser Health says it will facilitate “one-on-one meetings with key stakeholder groups” and will host information sessions for area residents.
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner has previously said she couldn’t support a stand-alone safe injection site in the city, though the city and RCMP are making an announcement about plans to clean up 135A Street later this morning.
Just weeks ago, she told The Province that “a stand-alone safe-injection site is not something that we would support” and that it would have to be “in concert with a clinical environment.”
Health Minister Terry Lake said in a release that supervised consumption services could help reduce the number of people dying.
“We have strong evidence from Insite that supervised consumption services reduce the transmission of disease, reduce fatal overdoses and help connect people to health care services,” Lake said. “The Province continues to push the federal government to reform the unnecessarily onerous application process, which creates significant barriers and delays in establishing these needed health services.”
In late November, B.C. recorded the highest number of overdose-related emergency calls in a single week in its history.
Total overdose deaths reported by the B.C. Coroners Service now stands at 622 for the year up to the end of October, up markedly from the 397 deaths in the same 10 months of 2015.
More to come.
-With files from Jeff Nagel