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Vancouver advocates support Toronto in opening unsanctioned overdose prevention site

Adrienne South/Global News

In an effort to save lives, the Overdose Prevention Society (OPS) in Vancouver is supporting Toronto’s advocacy group as it plans to open an unsanctioned site.

While the city sees a spike in overdose deaths, Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative government has decided to suspend a sanctioned site in the Parkdale neighbourhood.

And that’s where Toronto’s OPS is planning to set up tents.

READ MORE: Sarah Blyth to run for Vancouver city council after standing on the front lines of a drug crisis

Executive Director of Vancouver’s OPS, Sarah Blyth, told organizers all you need is five minutes to set up shop.

“When they first opened up in Moss Park, and I was talking to some of the volunteers there, was that you know all you need is a tent, table, chairs and a few volunteers to make sure that… that are trained with naloxone and oxygen or rescue breathing and being with people and not having people use alone.”

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READ MORE:  Advocacy group to open unsanctioned overdose prevention site in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood 

“So you can set something up really quick and you can start saving lives immediately,” she said.

“That’s what we did, and that’s what they did in Moss Park which ended up… we got a trailer, then they ended up with a trailer, and then Nanaimo they also ended up with a trailer eventually, and then eventually we all got funding because it was really… we proved immediately that we save lives that way.”

Three sites that were set to open in Toronto, Thunder Bay and St. Catherines are on hold pending further government study.

Blyth said she is seeing more people from across the country come to the overdose prevention site to learn how they operate.

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