Island Health medical health officer Dr. Paul Hasselback unexpectedly confirmed the location of the Cowichan Valley’s overdose prevention site.
The site will be be located at 715 Canada Ave. across the street from the Margaret Moss Health Centre, Hasselback confirmed Friday in a radio interview.
“Dr. Hasselback was doing a radio interview and mentioned it on the radio,” explained Island Health spokesperson Meribeth Burton. “We haven’t officially announced it and yet now we have; it will be at 715 Canada Ave. and we will have something formal when it opens.”
Burton said there is no official opening date.
“We could have done that more concertedly but this is the reality, so it is confirmed,” she said. “We have taken to meeting with neighbours and letting them know this week.”
The Duncan site will be Vancouver Island’s ninth overdose prevention site with others already operating in Port Alberni, Campbell River, Courtenay, Victoria and Nanaimo.
“Our other sites collectively have provided service to something like 40,000 visits in the last six months — about one per cent of them result in overdoses so that’s a lot of lives saved. It’s a benefit that the Cowichan Valley has not had over this period of time and unfortunately we have seen deaths occurring in the Cowichan Valley,” Hasselback told Juice FM. “We know that there’s a real need in the Cowichan Valley. I think it’s really great that we are finally able to move forward and provide this service that hasn’t been provided yet.”
The site, a former engineering firm, is currently functioning as a doctor’s office. It’s unknown whether the physician’s office will remain.
In a follow-up interview with the Citizen, Hasselback said the site will open soon.
“Having confirmed the location, there’s still staffing, equipment, setting it up and training and that is proceeding fairly quickly,” he said. “That’s why there’s no specific date, but it will be as soon as possible because this is a service that is absolutely needed in the Cowichan Valley.”