B.C. health minister says supervised consumption sites ‘save lives’ as Richmond considers motion

Tensions ran high in Richmond as city council heard from the public about a proposed supervised consumption site. Monika Gul has the latest.

As the City of Richmond considers a motion to add a supervised consumption site to the community, B.C.’s health minister is weighing in, in support of the facility.

Adrian Dix says the evidence on consumption sites is clear: “The evidence is safe injection sites save lives. The evidence is that they make a difference in communities. The evidence is that they make communities safer.”

“You need safe injection sites and you need treatment and you need action against a poisoned drug supply and you need action against those dealing poison in our community,” Dix continued Monday.

“The record of safety in safe injection sites is remarkable. There is enormous evidence to its positive effects.”

His comments came the same day councillors in Richmond are set to vote on the motion.

However, not all those on council are in favour of the proposal.

“It’s like people are drowning in the water and what we are doing is providing them with life jackets to keep them afloat — we are not pulling them out of water and we are also not preventing people from falling into the water,” Coun. Chak Au said on Now You Know with Rob Snow Monday.

“We have seen that first injection site in Vancouver in 2003, and since then, we have seen the number of overdose deaths in B.C. increasing.”

There’s also been opposition from within the community, with a petition opposing the supervised consumption site motion gathering more than 17,000 signatures.

However, there’s no evidence to suggest that supervised consumptions sites are related to an increase in the number of toxic drug related deaths. The BC Coroners Service said in January that, in 2023, there was only one death reported at an overdose prevention site.

Insite, the location Au was referring to, says its data shows no one has died after more 3.6 million people used the facility.

Meanwhile, the coroners service said in its update that there were 2,511 suspected unregulated toxic drug deaths in 2023, marking “the highest number of suspected deaths ever recorded in a year.”

It notes the toxicity of drugs has increased exponentially over the years and most toxic drug deaths occur when people are alone.

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