The city of Vancouver has approved an overdose prevention site in Yaletown.
The site, which will be located at 1101 Seymour Street, will be operated by the RainCity Housing and Support Society.
Seven councillors were in favour and four were opposed.
— Christine Boyle (@christineeboyle) October 20, 2020
Councillor Christine Boyle says people need access to a safe space in all areas of the city.
“Harm reduction saves lives. I am fiercely supportive of keeping people alive. In every neighbourhood,” she said.
The move comes as supporters argue that a site is desperately needed in response to the overdose crisis, which has killed 259 people in Vancouver and 1,068 in B.C. in 2020.
Some residents and groups in the area who oppose the site have raised concerns about discarded needles and public safety.
Last week, when council delayed making a decision on the site, Mayor Kennedy Stewart sent a mass email to his supporters saying “what I heard at Council greatly concerns me as there may not be enough votes to approve this life-saving facility as we need the support of at least eight council members to approve the lease for the site.”
The email said over 400 people had contacted council in support and it asked others to join.
Stewart said in the email that “many expressed concerns that by delaying the site, council further endangered the lives of our friends and neighbours. More than 20 people suffer an overdose every day in Vancouver.”
Councillor Melissa De Genova of NPA Vancouver, who criticized Stewart for emailing his campaign supporters, said she supports the overdose site and “the Four Pillars approach, but it doesn’t work without community involvement.”
-with files from Joanne Lee-Young