VICTORIA -- Island Health is looking to establish a new drug overdose prevention site in downtown Victoria.

The health authority has issued a request for proposals to potential site operators who can provide overdose prevention, harm reduction and safe injection and inhalation services.

There are currently five overdose prevention sites and two supervised consumption sites in Victoria, mainly in supportive housing facilities.

Groups interested in operating the proposed site “must provide a strategy for referring people to health care services, treatment and social supports when they are ready,” Island Health said in a statement Wednesday.

“They must also address location requirements and include a plan for community engagement to reduce neighbourhood impact,” health authorities said.

Island Health says the ongoing overdose crisis and COVID-19 pandemic have increased the need for overdose prevention sites in Victoria.

The health authority stipulates that preference will be given to sites that are within walking distance of health and social support services and close to public transit.

The authority will also favour sites that are not on high-traffic streets, not adjacent to a park or greenspace used for camping, and not within close proximity to schools or childcare facilities.

Interested bidders must submit a proposal on BC Bid before April 15.