Health Canada has announced it’s granting an exemption to the Vancouver Island Health Authority to operate Victoria’s first supervised consumption site.

The site will open at 941 Pandora Ave., which will be named the Pandora Community Health and Wellness Centre. It will offer integrated health services, including mental health counselling, a nursing clinic and linkages to addiction treatment programs.

Island Health says the site will need to undergo extensive renovations before it opens sometime in the spring or summer of 2018.

Once it’s operational the site will provide supervised injection services along with additional harm reduction and counselling services.

“The introduction of supervised consumption services is an important step in saving lives and harm reduction,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer. “The opioid crisis has taken a tremendous toll on the Island and as health care providers, we must offer greater supports and resources to people in the communities we serve.”

According to Island Health, 967 people died from a drug overdose in B.C. in 2016, 156 of those were on Vancouver Island.

Between January and May of this year 96 people have died of a drug overdose on the Island.

Island Health has made a joint application with PHS Community Services Society to operate a supervised consumption site at 844 Johnson Street. It’s currently under review by Health Canada.

In total, there are eight overdose prevention sites on Vancouver Island.