Victoria overdose prevention site reopens as death toll hits historic high
A naloxone kit is shown. (CTV News)
VICTORIA -- An overdose prevention site in the heart of Victoria’s downtown core will reopen despite COVID-19 concerns, according to Island Health.
The facility, sometimes referred to as a safe injection site, was closed in April as the global pandemic sparked concern in places where physical distancing would be difficult.
A mobile service was opened in place of the larger facility, but according to coroners’ statistics, it wasn’t able to stop a record-breaking number of overdose deaths from occurring in B.C. in May.
The facility, known as The Harbour, is located at 941 Pandora Ave. next to Our Place Society.
Approximately 170 people – an average of 5.5 a day – died of suspected illicit drug overdoses across B.C. last month.
The data represents the most deadly month for illicit drug overdoses in B.C.’s history.
In the Island Health Authority, 38 people died in May, overtaking the region’s previous record of overdose deaths per month by a tragic 36 per cent.
The B.C. Coroners Service says that one of the leading factors in the increase in overdose deaths is COVID-19 forcing people to use drugs alone.
Island Health says that the reopening of the Harbour is in direct relation to May’s overdose statistics.
Health officials have partnered with WorkSafeBC and implemented stringent COVID-19 restrictions at the site.
The safe injection site will be open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.