No consultation on needle exchange

Fernwood will get a needle exchange without public consultation. At a meeting on Wednesday, a panel of “stakeholders” announced that old services were being “enhanced” with “health supplies,” according to their own information sheet.

It was explained to the standing-room-only crowd that the panel saw no need for public consultation. A multitude of complaints about the former needle exchange that closed in 2008 led them to believe that they could navigate change without further input.

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Members of the public expressed concern that the site is located near two schools: Vic High and George Jay. The panel responded by saying that Vancouver-based Supervised Consumption Services has been demonstrated to function well within larger communities. The concept was met with optimism from the audience.

But Fernwood will not be getting SCS. Apparently, though it has been recommended since 2002, there has not been enough time to gather resources. Instead, we will be getting a needle exchange that encourages use of drugs off-site, likely in Fernwood, perhaps on school grounds.

Is that really the best the Vancouver Island Health Authority can do?

Esther Callo


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