With one application for a supervised injection site at Our Place pending – a facility is however, operating there – Island Health has applied for a second site in Victoria. Contributed photo

Island Health pursues Johnson Street supervised consumption site

Portland Hotel Society’s residential facility in Victoria eyed as location

Island Health has submitted an application for a second supervised consumption site in the downtown core.

The site, which needs approval from Health Canada, would be located at the Johnson Street Community residential facility at 844 Johnson St., which is home to about 145 high-risk, marginalized residents. It would be operated by the Portland Hotel Society and funded by Island Health.

“By building a supervised consumption service into the range of social and clinical services already offered (at that site), residents and their registered guests have safer drug-use services on-site with improved ability to connect users with treatment services, such as suboxone,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical health officer with Island Health.

Earlier this year, Island Health submitted an application for a supervised consumption site at Our Place and are still waiting for approval from Health Canada. In the meantime, a supervised site has been operating out of a converted shipping container on the premises since last December.

If the service at the Johnson Street facility is approved, it will be the first on Vancouver Island to embed supervised consumption services into a housing facility for vulnerable, high-risk individuals.

Earlier this year an outreach co-ordinator called upon Island Health and the City of Victoria to open a supervised injection site on Bridge Street.

As of April, 488 people have died in B.C. this year from illicit drug overdoses, including 37 in Victoria. Last year the province declared a state of emergency in response to an epidemic of drug-related deaths.