Vancouver Island’s largest supervised consumption site to open Monday

The Pandora location will be open 13 hours a day, 356 days per year

The next step toward saving lives from potential drug overdoses will soon be available in Victoria.

On Monday (June 18), the doors will officially open at the Pandora Supervised Consumption Centre, in the former St. John Ambulance centre at 941 Pandora Ave. The centre, the largest of its kind on the Island, will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. almost every day of the year. It will offer clean syringes and equipment, fentanyl test strips and 10 well-lit desks for drug users, an area to be supervised by PCP IV paramedics Lillian Gauthier and Scott Sywake.

“We see lots [of overdoses] on the street and we’re kind of excited to be here in this environment and help them,” Gauthier said.

“This is gonna give people the opportunity to come in here and be safe,” said Sywake. There will be many resources available to people, he added, “whether it’s counselling, addiction counselling, seeing the street nurse. Or if they should overdose, there will be a paramedic here and staff members are able to help out right away and provide assistance.”

For SOLID outreach worker David Keeler, the site offers much more than the overdose prevention site hosted temporarily in a converted shipping container next door at Our Place.

“The old place was so cramped; here we have so much room. Even if we have full tables we have room to lay people down and work on them without stepping over people,” he said. “The amenities are great, we have everything we need plus what we had before, so it’s just growing and it’s a great thing. We haven’t lost anyone in these sites.”

Judy Darcy, B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, was on hand to unveil the facility on Thursday. She reiterated that the opening of safe consumption sites is a major part of the effort to reduce drug overdose deaths.

“They save lives because they bring together harm reduction services, clinical services and connect people to the social supports which they absolutely critical need to get onto the pathway to hope,” she said.

Darcy reported that across B.C. there have been over 800,000 visits to supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites. “Over 5,300 overdoses have been reversed and not one single life has been lost.”

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Judy Darcy (centre) said supervised consuption centres save lives at the opening of the Pandora Supervised Consumption Centre. Nicole Crescenzi/ VICTORIA NEWS

On Vancouver Island alone there have been 121,000 visits across nine sites, with 683 overdoses reversed.

Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical officer with Island Health, said one of the most important things to remember is that everyone is affected by the opioid crisis, and the stigma against addiction needs to change.

“This is a chronically relapsing disease of the brain, and it should not be treated any differently than type 1 diabetes or any other diseases,” he said.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

 

Lillian Gauthier (left) and Scott Sywake are both PCP IV paramedics who will be stationed full time at the Pandora Supervised Consumption Centre. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

Just Posted

International migration drives population rise in B.C.

No joke, provincial population topped 5 million by April 1

Soul Shakers kick off free outdoor concerts in Oak Bay

Music fills the air at Willows Beach Park for series of concerts this summer

Sunset Cinema brings free family film under the stars in Colwood

Sunset Cinema hosts events on the Island from July 23 to 27

Have you seen Apple’s camera cars cruising your ‘hood?

White Subaru mapping cars seen around Saanich Peninsula

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques returns to Earth, sets Canadian space record

Native of Saint-Lambert, Que., set a record for longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days

Poll: Rising gas prices force B.C. residents rethink summer road trips

63 per cent of respondents reported gas prices are impacting their day-to-day finances

PHOTO: Moose cow and calf relax in Williams Lake flower garden

The homeowners got a surprise when they checked their most recent surveillance footage

Two in hospital after plane crashes in Okanagan Lake

RCMP say wheels left down caused landing plane to overturn on lake

The world’s Indigenous speakers gather in B.C.’s capital to revitalize languages

Organizers estimate about 1,000 delegates from 20 countries will be at the conference

Join talks on international treaty: B.C. First Nations mark ‘historic moment’

Representatives of the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations participated

Companies need clearer rules on workplace relationships, study suggests

One-third of Canadians have been in love at work, and half say no policy on the matter exists

WITH VIDEO: Two endangered marmots released on Vancouver Island

With three new pups born in May, two more Vancouver Island Marmots… Continue reading

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Most Read