Richmond city council to move forward with supervised consumption site

After two nights of heated discourse, Richmond city council passed a motion Tuesday night to look into creating a supervised consumption site.

More than one hundred people spoke in front of council, many of them protesting the motion. Antics from the public in attendance included shouting, clapping, and booing.

The motion, which passed 7-2, states city staff will conduct an “analysis to gauge the potential benefits and challenges” of having such a site at the Richmond General Hospital.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Listen to CityNews 1130 LIVE now!

Mayor Malcolm Brodie stressed the motion does not directly lead to a supervised drug consumption site being built, but instead only opens up a discussion.

“We’re investigating the possibility of having Vancouver Coastal Health set up a program and to fund that program,” he explained.

“More people are going to get treatment, more drugs are going to be tested. … Those drugs which are now legal, will be done in a safer way. And in the end, fewer people are going to die. And that’s why I will support this,” Brodie continued.

Dozens of Richmond residents who appeared in front of council, in-person and virtually, were opposed to the establishment of the site and expressed concerns that it would have negative impacts on their neighbourhood.

“Crime raises, public safety issues, particularly for our children,” one speaker shared.

“[Over] three hours, I collected 156 [signatures of] voting families [who] say no to the drug consumption site, and that’s not the official calculation,” another said.

The rise in toxic drug deaths in B.C. in recent years was referred to by many speakers as proof that supervised consumption sites are not helpful.

But experts say the two statistics cannot be conflated. Out of the more than 2,500 people who were killed by toxic drugs in 2023, only one death was recorded at a supervised consumption site.

Garth Mullins, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) member and Crackdown Podcast host, told CityNews Tuesday, that while many think that harm reduction sites, like the proposed safe consumption site in Richmond, are just needed in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, that kind of thinking is missing a large part of the community.

“Drug users are everywhere,” he explained. “People die everywhere in this province, so we need interventions everywhere.”

“The coroner sends out hearses to pick up bodies from houses all over this city and all over the province. We need those services wherever these people are,” he continued.

In accordance with the motion, staff will collaborate with Vancouver Coastal Health, the provincial and federal governments, local healthcare providers, and community organizations to establish the site.

A task force will also be formed to determine best practices and protocols for the site, and campaigns will be created to dispel misconceptions surrounding the sites.

Staff will also develop a process to ensure community concerns are heard during planning and implementation, the motion states.

Amid the controversy, there was also a confrontation between a woman and an opponent of the supervised consumption site, which saw a woman go on a racist tirade.

Footage posted on social media shows the white woman telling a man from Hong Kong that “he should go home.”

She also accused the man of being “corrupt.”

It appears an RCMP officer witnessed the incident, however, it’s unclear if they intervened.

-With files from Raynaldo Suarez

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today