Needle Exchange Update

August 2, 2009 at 11:43 pm 1 comment

VIHA has identified a potential new location for a fixed needle distribution site. It’s in the Burnside-Gorge neighbourhood just north of the Downtown border on Princess Street.

Members of the DRA have been part of VIHA’s Needle Exchange Advisory committee and its spin-off, the Site Selection Subcommittee. We find that this site–while far from perfect–meets many of the requirements a successful needle exchange needs.

The Times Colonist reports on it here, although it weighs heavily on the opinions expressed by members of SOLID (Society of Living Intravenous Drug users). It should be noted that the spokesperson for SOLID may not necessarily reflect the views of the SOLID Board or membership, let alone the opinions of Victoria’s drug users.

In a July 23 letter to the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s Needle Exchange Advisory Committee, a group calling itself SOLID — Society for Living Intravenous Drug Users — said a proposed site on Princess Street was inappropriate. No address was given.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Times Colonist, said the area is known to drug users as “extremely dangerous and violent due to street gang activity,” and any attempt at extra policing would only scare away needle-exchange clients.

The area is a few steps away from Government Street’s prostitute stroll. I’m not aware of any other extraordinary “gang” activity here and I’m certain the Vic PD would agree.

SOLID, listed as a member of the Needle Exchange Advisory Committee, also said that the site was too far from downtown services, buildings were badly maintained and unsuitable for a health service and current tenants would have to be displaced.

The site is relatively close to needed services. The compactness of Downtown Victoria gives the illusion of being far. Superimpose Victoria’s services onto a map of Vancouver or any other large city and the distances appear much closer.

The houses need minimal upgrades to meet requirements according to VIHA–not much more than was done at their comparable Nanaimo exchange.

It’s true that current tenants will be displaced but the landlord assures us accomodation will be made at his other properties. Still, there would be a net loss of low-income housing.

The letter argues 941 Pandora Ave., the site of the old St. John’s Ambulance Society, is still the best site for a needle exchange.

But the exchange, and the accompanying drug trade, would destabilize the 900 block Pandora which is already at critical mass for chaos. The residents (including Our Place) deserve a home free from public disorder.

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

900 Block Pandora GNA Vic News: Needle Exchange location eyed

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Michelle C  |  February 18, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    There needs to be a huge meeting of all
    the parties involved about where the needle exchange
    needs to go. Community consultation is key!


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