Victoria – Exactly one month after it opened, the Pandora Avenue Supervised Consumption site has officially been named “The Harbour” – reflecting the service’s purpose to provide a safe place – or harbour – where people can use illegal drugs under supervision by trained health professionals and peer support workers.
The name was chosen by clients who use overdose prevention and supervised consumption services in Victoria, and in particular by clients who visited the overdose prevention unit at Our Place. The Our Place service closed on July 6 following a three week transition between the two services which were located immediately adjacent to one another. Early indications are that the transition has gone smoothly as The Harbour has seen 3, 378 visits since it opened, and is now averaging 158 visits per day, significantly higher than the 93 visits a day at the temporary Our Place Overdose Prevention Unit.
“We are grateful to our clients for trusting Island Health and our service partners, Lookout Housing Society and SOLID, to provide a safe, welcoming and non-judgmental environment where they can use drugs,” said Mary Morrison, Manager, Mental Health and Substance Use, Island Health. “This service is saving lives and connecting people with services, supports and treatment every day.”
In addition to witnessed consumption, The Harbour provides harm reduction supplies, peer supports, public health nursing, mental health and substance use supports and linkages and referrals to treatment.
“We all need a harbour in our lives,” said Morrison, “a place where we are safe and protected and where we maybe can take a moment to contemplate whether now is the time to sail in a new direction. And when people are, The Harbour is ready to help.”
The Harbour Supervised Consumption Service is located at 941 Pandora Avenue in Victoria. It has ten consumptions booths, a waiting/reception and post-use areas, as well as a mental health counselling room, a nurse clinic room and a medication room and is open 6:30 am to 8:00 pm, seven days per week. The facility also houses Island Health’s Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams and associated clinical services.
In addition to oversight and clinical services provided by Island Health, contracted service partner The Lookout Housing and Health Society’s harm reduction staff provide supervision and education to ensure safer drug consumption, deliver crisis intervention and manage harm reduction supplies. Contracted service partner SOLID Outreach Society’s team of peer harm reduction workers provide supervision and education as well as support and advocacy. Paramedics from BC Emergency Health Services provide clinical expertise and intervention in the event of an overdose.