Contract talks for Victoria’s first supervised drug site about to begin

Island Health is set to start contract talks for the city’s first federally approved supervised drug consumption site.

The Pandora Wellness Centre is set to open this spring, after renovations are complete at 941 Pandora Ave.

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The site is next to Our Place Society, which offers services to Victoria’s vulnerable citizens.

The health authority was looking for “persons with lived experience” to provide peer support to clients and a community group to provide harm-reduction services.

Island Health hopes to have both contracts in place “as quickly as possible” to allow the agencies to hire and train staff and integrate their services with Island Health programs before the site opens.

The lead candidates are SOLID Outreach Society, a peer-run organization of people who use drugs, and Lookout Housing and Health Society, which provides low-barrier housing and a range of support services in 11 municipalities on the Lower Mainland.

If either of the contract negotiations prove unsuccessful, Island Health will begin negotiations with the next highest-scoring proponent.

Harm-reduction workers and people with lived experience will be working alongside Island Health nurses and paramedics, who have played an integral role in the temporary overdose prevention unit at Our Place since it opened in 2016.

Renovations are expected to be completed in late April. The facility will require a final Health Canada inspection before it opens.

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