Supervised injection sites in Kamloops would not be a panacea for the deadly opioid crisis and many North Shore businesses have already expressed opposition to the idea.
City council voted in support of safe-injection sites in principle Tuesday after hearing from Dr. Sylvena Mema, IHA medical health officer. Mema told council that safe-injection sites could be beneficial, both for drug users in terms of safety and access to services, and for the community.
“You can’t just do one thing in isolation,” Mema said. “We need a whole compendium of resources at hand.”
That point was made repeatedly before City council gave its nod to the concept of having Interior Health introduce safe-injection sites in the city.
The same point was reinforced by ASK Wellness, the Kamloops agency that provides front-line mental health and addiction services.
Bob Hughes, executive director, has told Interior Health that ASK Wellness will not be accommodating a supervised injection program.
Safe injection alone will not address the crisis in the absence of housing and detox supports, which are inadequate in Kamloops, Hughes said.
Mema said the next step is to look at possible locations with one site on both shores as a possibility.
North Shore Business Improvement Association released the results Wednesday of a survey among its members that was taken when the possibility of safe-injection sites was raised last month. Of 224 businesses canvassed on the North Shore, 172 responded that they oppose a safe-injection site while 52 said they would favour it.
“We reached out to as many businesses as we were able to over the course of August once we saw the media reports saying this was being considered for Kamloops," said NSBIA Executive Director Steven Puhallo, "Our business community is very concerned and worried about having a site like this on the North Shore, particularly in the Tranquille Market area."
He said they are discussing the proposal with IHA and will be working with the health authority to get more information.
"Our members primary concern is the massing of services like this on the North Shore, and what the long-term strategy and game plan is around this form of harm reduction."