Vancouver city council approves Yaletown overdose prevention site

Click to play video: 'Council Approves Yaletown Overdose Prevention Site'
Council Approves Yaletown Overdose Prevention Site
Despite opposition from area residents, the city of Vancouver Council votes 7-4 in favour of an overdose prevention site in Yaletown. Catherine Urquhart reports – Oct 21, 2020

A controversial overdose prevention site has been approved in Yaletown.

All NPA Vancouver city councillors voted against the site at Helmcken and Seymour streets, but it passed in a rare simple majority Tuesday afternoon 7-4.

NPA Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung said it just wasn’t the right location.

“We believe in safe injection sites, we believe in safe supply, but we didn’t feel like having a location in proximity to a children’s playground and a planned daycare makes sense given the stress that the neighbourhood is already under,” Kirby-Yung said.

She added that health officials told council the site won’t even increase service.

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“Given the fact there is a mobile unit already there, and there is a site already in service at St Paul’s,” she said, “Vancouver Coastal Health confirmed that this is not a net increase in service, this is simply shifting from a mobile to a physical location.”

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The site was supported by Mayor Kennedy Stewart who, shortly after the vote, issued a press release aimed at the NPA.

“Today, the NPA abandoned support for essential harm reduction services and instead embraced an anti-science, divisive response that endangers vulnerable residents during a drug-poisoning crisis.”

Yaletown residents have been vocal about what they say is an increase in crime, street disorder and open drug use.

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In July, police increased their presence in the area in response to public outcry.

The vote came the same day the B.C. Coroners Service said 127 people had died of drug overdoses in the month of September.

More than 1,000 people in B.C. have died of an overdose so far in 2020. The number of deaths in the first eight months of this year was already higher than the total for all of 2019.

Click to play video: 'Shuswap mother shares story of daughter’s overdose to advocate for safe injection site'
Shuswap mother shares story of daughter’s overdose to advocate for safe injection site

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