I would like to thank Couns. Kash Heed, Laura Gillanders, and all of the city councillors who voted in favour of the motion to study the option for a supervised consumption site at Richmond General Hospital. It was the right decision and showed a lot of political bravery.
There has been a lot of misinformation or misunderstanding surrounding council’s decision on Monday. Some of the arguments are in good faith with real concerns that should be addressed.
Everyone has a right to feel safe and welcome in their own neighbourhood. However, many of these concerns have already been answered.
B.C. is struggling through an overdose crisis where almost seven people a day are dying on average due to the poisoned drug supply. These are our neighbours, co-workers, family members and friends.
We need every tool available to connect people who are struggling with drug addiction to medical support.
But you can’t do that after someone has passed away.
And it is not acceptable to say that people who take drugs deserve to die.
Supervised consumption sites are places where people who are taking drugs can do it in a medically safe and monitored area, where they do not have to worry about poisoned drugs or allow shame to drive them to take drugs alone where they are more likely to succumb to an overdose.
In a supervised consumption site people can also build relationships and trust.
If your goal is to get people connected to recovery services, a supervised consumption site is one of the best options available to build those connections and get people connected to help and wraparound care.
Drug addiction is also a chronic relapsing condition and recovery is a long journey. Those who want to stop taking drugs can still have lapses — and when even one poisoned dose can be deadly. A safe consumption site can serve as a lifeline to keep them alive.
This motion will not solve the overdose crisis in our community. It will not fill every gap in service. And more advocacy is needed to make sure that when someone is ready for help there is a recovery bed or care worker waiting for them.
But a supervised consumption site will save lives. And in a city where we care about our neighbours, that reason is enough to support this motion.
It is not a radical stance to say that these lives are worth saving.