The number of overdoses on city streets reached new records in November.
Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services say they were called to 735 overdose calls in November, the highest monthly number this year and up from 510 in October.
Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 26, there were 6,016 illicit or unknown drug overdoses recorded at Vancouver Coastal Health emergency departments.
Over one quarter, 1,679, were opioid overdoses.
The City of Vancouver says most overdoses came from the city centre or Downtown Eastside. Seventy-two per cent of patients were treated at St. Paul’s Hospital.
The thousands of overdoses have resulted in over 620 deaths in B.C., including 124 in Vancouver.
According to a report from BC Coroners Service, between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 2016, males accounted for just over 80 per cent of all overdose-related deaths. The most common days for overdose deaths were Saturdays and Sundays.
In that time period, there were 211 fatal overdoses in the Fraser Health Authority, which includes Surrey, Burnaby and the Fraser Valley.
Despite numerous warnings, awareness campaigns, pop-up consumption sites and other initiatives, the number of overdoses is not going down. On Dec. 5, there were three overdoses at the Carnegie Centre on the Downtown Eastside before 12 p.m.
The City says the crisis is affecting city operations, particularly around sanitation services.
“Public realm cleanliness has been significantly impacted with a significant increase in the number of needles in parks and sidewalks, and abandoned garbage in streets, lanes and sidewalks. While a significant increase in sanitation services was approved as part of the 2016 budget, the need is continuing to increase,” it said in a release.
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Mayor Gregor Robertson and the City, along with the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users and the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society, will be hosting a public forum on the ongoing opioid crisis on Thursday, Dec. 8.
The public is invited to discuss the rising overdoses and hear directly from people who have been personally affected by the crisis.