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Mixed community reaction to Richmond supervised consumption site

Click to play video: 'Richmond residents react to safe injection site plan'
Richmond residents react to safe injection site plan
Drugs also high on the minds of Richmond residents, after city council voted to explore options for a safe consumption site this week. The councillor behind the motion says he's been the target of abuse from people upset with the decision – Feb 10, 2024

Community members in Richmond, B.C., have strong thoughts about the newly passed motion that is aimed at helping people with illicit drug addiction.

Earlier this week, a Richmond City Council committee passed a motion to open a supervised consumption site, in a vote of 8-1, at Richmond Hospital.

The councillor behind the motion, Kash Heed, said the vote has been met with significant and inappropriate reactions from some members of the community.

“We have health practitioners who will be there, who are not only going to maintain contact with you while you are consuming your drugs but at the same time, develop a relationship … for detox,” he said.

“We have police officers who have to respond to people consuming their drugs in public places … They will now have somewhere to direct people.”

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Heed said council has received a few comments and emails.

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“(We’ve) got a lot of abusive emails,” Heed said.

Emails shared with Global News asked why Richmond is voting for a drug consumption site where “only 26 residents” died from overdoses the year prior, and that a consumption site is a “magnet for attracting new drug addicts.”

One email was behind the facility, saying the resident wants to live in a compassion-driven, science-led community.

The single council vote against the facility was from Chak Au.

“We are not talking about prevention in this process, we are not talking about treatment … (this facility) is about maintenance,” he told Global News.

On Sunday, the City of Richmond issued a release to clarify on “a large amount of misinformation and misunderstanding” of what will go before council on Monday and what a supervised consumption site is.

The city also said it can’t open or operate a consumption site on its own. The decision to do so lies with Health Canada and Vancouver Coastal Health. The vote in favour by the council committee is a stamp of approval that is taken into consideration by Health Canada and Vancouver Coastal Health.

At Monday’s meeting, council is expected to finalize that stamp of approval.

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According to the city, supervised consumption sites do not hand out drugs to users but do provide access to treatment and recovery services.

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