Safe consumption sites in need of research

Fort St. John city council approved zoning rules for supervised drug consumption sites on August 24, following a public hearing. A month later, proposals for any sites have yet to be heard.

Women’s Resource Society Executive Director Amanda Trotter says while a site could be a benefit to the community, more research needs to be done. 

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“We already know that safe injection sites do save lives,” said Trotter. “Up here in the north we have a lot of logistics around that, we need to find a place where it’s not close to schools, where it’s a comfortable space for the rest of the community.”

Trotter says the society has no plans to run a site, citing limited resources, a commitment to their existing programs, along with their location on 100 Street being unsuitable due to a nearby a preschool. 

“To run a site of this kind of nature, whoever’s going to be doing that needs proper support around them, that is city support and support from the health services, Northern Health,” said Trotter.

However, the society does provide naloxone kits and education. Roughly 100 to 150 kits are given out every month, says Trotter. 

Fort St. John has seen a record high number of fatal drug overdoses through the first six months of 2020 — 11 people had died at the end of June, up from the previous high of 10 recorded in all of 2018. 

The amendments were approved unanimously, giving the city the power to consider and permit sites on a case-by-case basis, similar to proposals for cannabis production facilities.

Sites are completely prohibited , with organization proposing sites to work with both Northern Health and the city using a rezoning process which includes public consultation and council approval. 
 
Harsh winters in Fort St John also pose a significant problem.

“We’ve also got other drawbacks in terms of our weather, inclement weather, whether or not people would even come out and use it, when it’s minus thirty,” said Trotter.

Email reporter Tom Summer at tsummer@ahnfsj.ca

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