KELOWNA – Interior Health has revealed its preferred location for a proposed safe injection site for intravenous drug users in Kelowna.
It’s downtown on Leon Avenue at a building owned by the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society.
The agency is also proposing a mobile unit that would service other high-use areas of the city.
“Evidence shows that supervised consumption services can reduce the number of overdose deaths, improve access to health-care and treatment services and reduce public drug use and discarded needles,” says Interior Health spokesperson Dr. Trevor Corneil in a news release. “Offering a service like this will not only benefit those at risk of overdose – it will also benefit the surrounding area.”
Before deciding whether to apply to Health Canada for an exemption to operate the safe injection services, Interior Health says it will consult with various stakeholders about the proposed locations to identify any concerns.
The public can provide feedback through the agency’s supervised consumption webpage until December 15th.
According to the news release, “A supervised consumption service is a health service that provides a clean environment where people can use pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of trained health-care staff who can respond promptly in the event of an overdose. In addition to supervision, people using the service are provided with sterile injection supplies, education on safer injection, overdose prevention and intervention, medical and counselling services, and referrals to drug treatment, housing, income support and other services.”
Thirty-seven people died from drug overdoses in Kelowna in the first ten months of the year compared to 20 deaths in 2015.
A mobile injection unit is also proposed for Kamloops, where there have been at least 31 overdose fatalities this year.