Whoever is elected mayor of Victoria on Saturday (November 15) is going to be working to bring a supervised injection facility to British Columbia's capital.
During a debate held Monday (November 10), all four top contenders campaigning to lead the city voiced strong support for the idea of a safe place for addicts to use intravenous drugs in Victoria.
From the candidates:
Stephen Andrew: “I support them but it must have intervention and treatment and recovery models.”
Ida Chong: “I do support them because I have seen that they do save lives.”
Dean Fortin: “Yes, I do support safe consumption sites.”
Lisa Helps: “I will work hard to make sure that we have a safe consumption site in this city.”
According to a November 12 CHEK News report, an injection site in Victoria would not operate as a stand-alone clinic like the Downtown Eastside's Insite, but would instead resemble the Dr. Peter Centre in Vancouver’s West End.
At the Dr. Peter Centre, a supervised injection room was integrated into existing infrastructure and services at a price significantly less than what it would cost to open a second location like Insite.
In June 2014, the Straight reported that the Dr. Peter model is one that Insite’s operator, Vancouver Coastal Health, also favours for an expansion of supervised injection services in the Lower Mainland.
A CHEK online poll asked if viewers support the idea of a supervised injection site in Victoria. The result was dead even, with 50 percent in favour and 50 percent opposed.
According to the CHEK report, Victoria mayor Dean Fortin has said that two supervised injection facilities could open in Victoria in less than a year. That claim was met with skepticism by a city councillor with knowledge on the matter.
In Canada, a mayor and city council cannot legally open a supervised injection facility without proper permissions from the federal government.
The supervised injection room at the Dr. Peter Centre technically operates illegally (with the support of the province, Vancouver’s mayor, and VPD chief Jim Chu). It applied for federal exemptions required to operate legitimately in February 2013 and is still waiting for an answer on that application.
Services providers in Quebec are also in the early stages of an application process that would bring a supervised injection site to Montreal.