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Fraser Health says new Surrey supervised injection site is saving lives

The inside of the newly-opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C. Tuesday, June 6, 2017.
The inside of the newly-opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C. Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

It’s been almost two weeks since Surrey’s first supervised injection site on the so-called “Whalley strip” opened, and Fraser Health says it’s saving lives.

Since it opened Jun. 8, the facility site has seen 597 visits from 147 people.

On average each person has accessed services at the site four times.

Since “SafePoint” opened, staff have also reversed nine overdoses.

READ MORE: Supervised injection site set to open in Surrey

Many businesses on the nearby King George Boulevard say they’re fed up with the drug dealing and needles on their doorsteps and they hope the consumption site improves things.

Heather Lidderdale works at Liberty Tax Service on the King George Highway and says she’s sensitive to the plight of addicts.

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“Everybody’s human and everybody has a mother and a father and everybody is loved somewhere, no matter what their struggles. And if it saves lives, then I’m all for it.”

WATCH: Calls for supervised injection site after surge in overdoses

Click to play video: 'Calls for safe injections site in Surrey after surge of overdoeses' Calls for safe injections site in Surrey after surge of overdoeses
Calls for safe injections site in Surrey after surge of overdoeses – Jul 20, 2016

But she says in the week since the facility has been in operation, it hasn’t made much of a visible difference to the neighbourhood.

“I honestly haven’t seen any kind of difference, I mean I just hope, to be perfectly honest with you, that it saves lives.”

Others in the neighbourhood who spoke with CKNW, but who did not want to be interviewed, said nothing will improve until the Whalley strip is cleared out and cleaned up.

READ MORE: Vancouver Mayor says city is ‘desperate’ to stop overdose death toll

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The injection site is B.C.’s first outside of Vancouver.

Like Vancouver’s Insite, visitors to the Surrey location are able to inject drugs under medical supervision and are connected to health care and community supports.

Health Canada did not approve the facility to allow people to snort drugs or take them orally.

Meanwhile, a second supervised consumption site will be opening soon near Surrey Memorial Hospital.

It was due to open last week but there was a delay in the installation of equipment.

As of the end of May Surrey had recorded 51 overdose deaths in 2017, the second highest rate of any municipality in B.C.

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