Our Place overdose prevention site sees nearly 1,800 users in January
Paramedics tried to revive a 41-year-old man on an overdose call to Langley Street in downtown Victoria on Thursday but were unsuccessful in their attempts. Feb. 16, 2017.
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Thursday, February 16, 2017 6:09PM PST
The opioid overdose crisis in B.C. was at its worst last year, but in Victoria there are no signs things will improve in 2017.
With no timeline in sight to open a permanent supervised consumption site in the city, those on the front lines of the epidemic say more needs to be done.
Our Place Society, which operates a temporary supervised consumption site on Pandora Street, said nearly 1,800 people used the site to safely inject drugs last month.
“We’ve still been seeing a lot of overdoses,” said executive director Don Evans. “We had 26 in January, none of them fatal, thank goodness.”
Another tragic reminder of the province’s illicit drug crisis, which claimed 914 lives last year, unfolded in downtown Victoria when first responders were called to an overdose on Langley Street Thursday morning.
In the end, a 41-year-old man could not be revived by paramedics desperately performing CPR on him.
Outreach workers and former addicts say at this rate, things will only get worse.
“I’ve lost a few friends through this whole thing,” said Brent Donovan, a former user who now works at Our Place’s consumption site. “It’s a quiet terrorism going on on our streets right now. All the fentanyl, it’s getting worse and worse and worse…It’s absolutely terrifying."
Evans said the site has been so busy that people are lining up to use the consumption pod, and the high demand has also weighed heavy on staff and resources.
“We’re running at capacity,” he said.
Island Health has requested a permanent supervised consumption site for Victoria, but Health Canada says it has no timeline on when a city in crisis could see relief.
“I have no idea what the summer is going to look like. People are dropping all around us,” said Donovan. “There’s so much more work to be done to make it safe.”
The BC Coroners Service is expected to release new overdose death numbers for January on Friday.
With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Scott Cunningham