There were 127 overdose deaths in the Fraser Health region in the first six months of this year, including 10 from fentanyl in Maple Ridge.
In April, the B.C. government declared its first-ever public health emergency to deal with the sharply rising cases of opioid drug overdoses across the province.
On the weekend, there were 43 overdoses in Surrey alone.
Now, Fraser Health is looking to add supervised injection sites in city centres.
Maple Ridge could be one of those.
Mayor Nicole Read said she doesn’t know enough about safe injection sites to say whether she supports one in Maple Ridge, but expects such a facility would raise “deep concern in the community.”
MLA Doug Bing, however, would support such an initiative. It would save lives, he said, and make the streets safer.
There are two supervised injection sites in Vancouver. Insite became North America’s first legal clinic in 2003 and operates under Vancouver Coastal Health, which provides all funding and senior administrative and health-care workers.
An article by Julio Montaner and Thomas Kerr of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS said peer-reviewed studies have shown Insite saves lives and health-care money, reduces disease transmission, and promotes entry into addiction treatment. They said peer-reviewed studies done by researchers from Canada, Australia, Britain and the U.S. show Insite does not increase crime or perpetuate active drug use.
Under the federal Respect For Communities Act passed by the former Conservative government, proposed consumption sites seeking an exemption must be backed by extensive documentation, including support letters from the local municipality and police force. It should be repealed, as requested by health officials.
Fentanyl is being mixed in and passed off as other drugs because it is cheaper, and people – addicts and recreational drug users – are dying from it at an alarming rate.
Sites for safe injection sites will be chosen based on where the most benefit is possible, using data on overdoses, as well as fatalities from the B.C. Coroners Service.
Maple Ridge would be a good candidate.
– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News