Vancouver Island Health Authority will open Cowichan’s overdose prevention site at 715 Canada Ave. (Google Maps)

City of Duncan opposed location, but will patrol overdose prevention site

Island Health did not need the City's permission to establish the site

The City of Duncan issued an information notice Tuesday that re-confirmed it had opposed the location of an overdose prevention site at 715 Canada Ave. while assuring residents that officials will be keeping an eye on the neighbourhood.

A news item posted on the City’s website noted “No, VIHA did not need city council’s permission to establish the OPS at 715 Canada Avenue. Nonetheless, city council advised VIHA that they did not support the location due to its proximity to a residential neighbourhood.”

The Island Health did not need the City’s permission to establish the site as a ministerial order under the emergency services act enabled the province to situate the service where it deemed fit.

Duncan’s newsletter went on to note that, “VIHA has partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association to collect discarded needles throughout the Cowichan Valley. Since early July, City staff have noticed a marked decrease in the proliferation of used needles.”

What’s more, the notice said bylaw enforcement officials will carry out regular patrols around the overdose prevention site, and increase their night patrols through town as well.

“The City will be monitoring the impacts of the OPS and will advise VIHA if any concerns arise,” it said, noting that VIHA has told them there had been “very few” concerns reported from neighbours of Vancouver Island’s other eight sites.

Island Health medical health officer Dr. Paul Hasselback confirmed on Sept. 1 that the Duncan overdose prevention site was set to open soon.

“Having confirmed the location, there’s still staffing, equipment, setting it up and training and that is proceeding fairly quickly,” he said. “That’s why there’s no specific date, but it will be as soon as possible because this is a service that is absolutely needed in the Cowichan Valley.”

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