Interior Health to open permanent supervised consumption site in Kelowna | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interior Health to open permanent supervised consumption site in Kelowna

The former Vancouver Community College location on Leon Avenue in Kelowna will be used as a new urban-health centre.
Image Credit: Google Maps
March 12, 2021 - 4:30 PM

After months of planning, Interior Health will be opening a new outreach centre which will contain a permanent supervised consumption site in Kelowna’s downtown.

The new Outreach Urban Health primary care centre will be located at the former Vancouver Community College’s location on Leon Avenue. The centre is an amalgamation of its current primary care clinic and other pre-existing mental health and substance use services together under one roof, according to a statement from the health authority.

The current centre is located across the street, along with the Cornerstone Shelter.

The new clinic will mostly be used for routine medical appointments which would have occurred at the former location. It’s also are expected to include supervised consumption, assertive community treatment, a mobile community response team and a police and crisis team, Interior Health said.

"The building is now undergoing renovations and is expected to open late March to early April in a phased approach. Clients and patients are being contacted directly about the changes and they will be supported to ensure a smooth transition,” the statement from IH reads.

Currently, Kelowna only has a mobile RV supervised safe consumption site.

READ MORE: Why the mobile injection site left its downtown parking spot

Joshua Pelletier, co-lead peer coordinator with the Kelowna Area Network of Drug Users, a peer support group that aims to destigmatize drug use, said it’s good that IH will have a permanent supervised consumption site.

“To have something safe like that, with the way the overdose crisis is, it would be huge to have something, as long as it’s run properly and has the proper security,” he said.

He said that drug users don’t necessarily operate on the schedule of the mobile consumption site but every time he’s seen the site, at least two people or three people are waiting to use it.

Pelletier said it’s a smart idea to keep the site in that area so services can be accessed close to the Cornerstone Shelter and Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society.

Supervised consumption sites will help save lives, especially amid the overdose crisis, he said.

“A safe place to be is huge. We try to encourage the buddy system, so if they’re not at a safe consumption site, to have someone there with you," Pelletier said.

Last year was the deadliest year in B.C.’s overdose crisis history. In 2020, 1,716 people died due to illicit drug use.

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