Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Drug-site consultation survey prompts criticism

Island Health is responding to criticism over its public consultation survey on its three supervised injection sites proposed for Victoria.
Locations of proposed supervised injection sites

Island Health is responding to criticism over its public consultation survey on its three supervised injection sites proposed for Victoria.

“We recognize the concerns that have been expressed about the survey questions, and we agree these concerns are valid,” said a statement posted Thursday on the health authority’s website.

Several people complained on social media and to Island Health about the survey, which asks respondents to say whether they are “a little bit concerned,” “moderately concerned,” “very concerned” or “extremely concerned” about several aspects of the site. It does not offer an option for registering no concern.

“It’s flawed because people are forced to express a level of concern and it perpetuates the idea that we should all have a level of concern,” said Bruce Wallace, a researcher from the University of Victoria with expertise on health inequities and vulnerable citizens.

Safe consumption sites are facilities where individuals can go to inject or consume illicit drugs in a hygienic environment under the supervision of trained staff. Users bring their own drugs to the facilities, which often offer other health and social services.

Such sites aim to reduce the number of overdose deaths, connect people with health-care services and reduce public drug use and the number of discarded needles.

Island Health is proposing two public sites, one at 941 Pandora Ave. (next to Our Place Society) and 2920 Bridge St. (near the Rock Bay Landing shelter), along with a site in a private apartment building at 844 Johnson St.

The survey is part of a public consultation process taking place until Dec. 2. Public consultation is a requirement of the application for federal exemption to establish a supervised consumption site.

Wallace noted the survey was modelled on a similar one from Toronto, which included the question: “Do you have any concerns about the addition of small-scale supervised injection services?” Only 14 per cent of respondents answered yes, he said.

“I’m curious why Island Health left this out,” he said.

Island Health’s Kellie Hudson said the question was not omitted intentionally.

“We tried to develop a survey that was clear and succinct, one that would solicit honest and open feedback from the public,” she said. Respondents are able to skip any questions without answering.

The health authority considered amending the survey, but decided against it as more than 300 people had already responded and because of the tight timeline.

Hudson noted all feedback will be included in the consultation package, including that collected via email and online comments and at town hall meetings.

Have your say

Public feedback for the proposed supervised consumption services will be accepted until Dec. 2 at the following:

• Email —

• Online survey —

• Public meetings — Nov. 22, 4-7 p.m. at Centennial United Church, 612 David St., and Nov. 23, 4-7 p.m. at Victoria City Hall, Douglas Street at Pandora Avenue

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks