Our newest needle exchange

December 4, 2008 at 4:29 am 2 comments

The folks at Harm Reduction Victoria have stirred things up in Downtown. Their ad-hoc needle exchange, located in Harris Green park near St. Andrew’s Elementary distributed needles as a response to the closing earlier this year of the Cormorant exchange.

Their deliberate tactic of distributing in an already problematic area is causing frustration with the existing stakeholders who have been spending the last few months crafting the terms under which an exchange can operate. This includes adequate staffing and funding that ensures a minimum of disruption to our neighbourhood. Footage from A News showed City employees cleaning up a large amount of drug-related paraphernalia near the site of the impromptu exchange. One police officer noted seeing uncapped syringes–something virtually unheard of normally.

Here’s a recent Op-Ed piece by Bruce Wallace of Harm Reduction Victoria on the need for a new exchange. An excerpt:

VIHA and the city need to spend less time on appeasing neighbourhood associations and private schools and much more time and resources replacing the inadequate Cormorant facility with the implementation of comprehensive primary health care services for those affected by drug use and poverty.

There is overall consensus to not simply replace the old Cormorant facility with the same services in a new location. We have heard support for the development of multiple, integrated safe consumption services from the city, the police, the provincial health officer, service providers and drug users. The feasibility study for such services was commissioned by the city and VIHA, completed by Benedikt Fisher in April and hopefully not shelved.

It is the opinion of the Downtown Residents’ Association that needle exchanges must have adequate support systems in place, including security, staffing and a code of conduct/good neighbour agreement. Harm reduction means caring for the health concerns of all citizens, not just intravenous drug users, and Hep-C laden needles on our streets constitute a health concern.

Mr. Wallace, nobody is appeasing the DRA. We are fighting for the same thing you are, an adequately run needle exchange as part of a comprehensive harm-reduction strategy.

Entry filed under: Harris Green, needle exhange, safe injection sites, social issues.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. goyodelarosa  |  December 9, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    ‘Harm Reduction’ Victoria and their contempt for the health of children and law-abiding downtown residents are apparently acting with complete impunity, distributing needles to sick addicts, thus doing nothing more than enabling them to stay stuck in their addctions, contributing to the slow death of this neighbourhood, and aggravating the anarchic situation we see on Pandora Avenue.

    I am amazed that they are allowed by the Socialist-Liberal-Green Establishment of Fortin and Co. to run amok as they do.

    – Gregory Hartnell
    Concerned Citizens’ Coalition

  • 2. Robert Randall  |  December 9, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    I’m disappointed that they appear to suffer from the same silo mentality that other levels of bureaucracy suffer: that they are solely focused on the health of their clients–the social disorder associated with drug use is someone else’s problem.


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