Pop-up safe injection site opens in Vancouver Downtown Eastside

24/01/2019 Posted by admin

A pop-up injection site on on the Vancouver Downtown Eastside is helping drug users more safely take drugs while hoping to avoid deadly fentanyl overdoses.

“We didn’t have this when my son was alive. But now we do, but my son is gone,” said Janet Charlie, whose son died of a fentanyl overdose in August.

“I wish there were more places like this.”

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According to the City of Vancouver, the supervised injection site is unsanctioned and isn’t operating with the special legal exemptions the city’s two other sites have been given.

“If you’re a person alone in an alley, that’s when people die,” said Sarah Blyth, the site co-ordinator.

Blyth is a former Vision Vancouver Park Board commissioner who helped make the pop-up injection site happen. She said the project was necessary because she and other volunteers at the open market on Hastings Street saw people dying from fentanyl all around them.

“It was a situation where someone would come running in and we’d see if we had Narcan, or had we run out. So now everything’s sort of in one area that people can get easy access to,” said Blyth.

She said they’d rather see people go to Insite, the city-sanctioned safe injection site.

They have been operating since September and see about 100 people a day. Vancouver Coastal Health provides the supplies they need but does not condone the site.

“We share the frustration of Anne and Sarah and others to legally open these services and we’d like to see that period of time reduced and we’d like to see it be a lot easier to offer these services,” said Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer at VCH.

Daly is hopeful two more safe injection sites will open in Vancouver early next year. Until then, this tent isn’t coming down.

Organizers have opened a GoFundMe campaign hoping to raise $3,000 to keep the tent operating. In three days they have raised $2,700.