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Health officials close to releasing proposed locations for safe injection sites in Kelowna, Kamloops

FILE PHOTO - An injection kit is shown at Insite, a safe injection facility in Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 6, 2008.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
September 22, 2016 - 8:00 PM

OKANAGAN - Health officials are nailing down proposed locations for safe injection sites in Kelowna and Kamloops, and expect to release those plans to the public in the next few weeks.

Dr. Silvina Mema, with the Interior Health Authority, says they hope to announce the proposed sites around mid-October in the form of an online survey intended to collect feedback from local residents.

The concept of a safe drug consumption site has already been endorsed by Kamloops council, and supported in principle by Kelowna council, Mema says, but they also need the community on board, plus permission from Health Canada.

“This is not an easy sell,” Mema says. “This is not a baby clinic — it is a controversial clinic that serves a group of people who have been highly stigmatized and marginalized.”

She believes the odds are good the projects will eventually proceed in each of the communities.

“I think it’s very hard to argue with something that saves lives,” she says.

While specific locations aren’t being announced until next month, the idea of a mobile service is being actively explored for Kamloops.

“The mobile unit would go where people who use drugs are,” Mema says.

A mobile service would be less expensive than creating two or even three permanent sites, plus it would have a broader reach, Mema says.

An example of a mobile service would be a van that makes three or four stops a day around the city in specified, scheduled locations, she says.

There are currently no mobile safe injection sites in Canada, but there are some in Europe.

“This is so new that we can be creative in deciding how we want to deliver this service,” she says.

More stories about safe injection sites can be found here.

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