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Drugs not handed out at safe consumption sites: City of Richmond

Richmond Fire-Rescue has provided maps showing where suspected drug poisonings and overdoses occur.
Richmond City Hall

Supervised consumption sites don’t hand out drugs – this was the message from the City of Richmond on Sunday.

The city sent out a statement saying there has been “a large amount of misinformation and misunderstanding” circulating about what a supervised consumption site is and what city council will be discussing at Monday’s council meeting.

City council voted 8-1 last week to support further discussion about a safe consumption site in Richmond for people using drugs.

“Supervised consumption sites provide a safe location for individuals with an addiction to administer their own drugs under the supervision of a qualified health professional,” the city said in its statement. “The sites or staff do not hand out drugs to users but provide access to addiction treatment and recovery services.”

The city noted, however, that the ultimate decision lies with the health authority and exemptions would be needed under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act.

If council votes again in favour of the motion on Monday, it would be to pursue "a request for a supervised consumption site,"

The motion, put forward by Coun. Kash Heed, included a suggestion of Richmond Hospital as the location of such a site.

Maps provided by Richmond Fire-Rescue have shown a cluster of suspected drug poisonings and overdoses in city centre, although they also show occurrences around the city from Hamilton to Steveston.

Twenty-six people died in Richmond in 2023 of suspected drug poisonings.

Coun. Chak Au was the only councillor to vote against the motion last week, noting deaths from drug poisonings and overdoses haven't gone down since supervised consumption sites first opened in 2003.

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