Fred Cameron stands among the harm reduction supplies that are handed out by SOLID Outreach to those living on Pandora Avenue. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Safe consumption plays critical part in Victoria’s temporary homeless shelters

So far, four hotels have been secured, along with 50 spots in the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre

Moving the homeless population into hotels, motels and other temporary indoor shelters has been a fluid situation, according to those who are helping to organize them.

There were times when the pandemic first hit where Fred Cameron, who works with SOLID Outreach — one of the organizations helping to set up ‘pop-up overdose prevention sites’ at the temporary shelters — would walk outside and take stalk of the juxtaposition of the situation.

“In the professional world, there was an absolute state of panic and then you’d step outside … everyone is living next to their friends, they didn’t really know to what degree [what was going on] in the rest of the world,” he says. “So, you know at times, I would rely on them for stability.”

From “non-stop” zoom calls, and meetings three to five times a day, Cameron says things began to solidify when the province announced under the Emergency Program Act that homeless camps in Victoria and Vancouver would be dismantled and everyone living in them would be moved inside.

READ ALSO: B.C. enacts provincial order to move homeless at Victoria encampments into hotels

“That gives them the power to enforce the act and that brought fear into the community on the street. That was where things switched. We knew that housing was coming up, but we didn’t know if there was enough,” he says. “But we started to calm down as a group. We knew we had a general picture. We knew the ball was rolling. We knew that things were moving.”

So far, four hotels have been secured as temporary shelter for the homeless population, says Cameron, along with another 50 spots for people to live at the Save-On-Food Memorial Centre. A safe consumption site has been set up at the arena with spaces for three or four people to use injection drugs, along with one at the Travelodge Hotel.

But Cameron says it’s hard to know whether they’re helping or harming the population by moving the resources off of Pandora.

READ ALSO: Evicted Victoria couple return to Travelodge rent-free

“We’re at a want for resources across every level of this problem. So if we put that many resources spread out, I don’t know that we’re helping,” he says.

Kelly Reid, director of mental health and addiction service for Island Health, says the approach for harm reduction at these temporary shelter sites will be to provide as much access as possible to the “tried and true overdose prevention site model” where people are able to go into a booth, use their drugs and are supervised in case of an overdose. But he adds, “This can’t be the only strategy.”

According to Reid, all the tenants and staff will have Naloxone and be trained on how to use it.

“One type of staff that will be available in these sites are peers, or people with lived experience, who know what it’s like to face these risks and challenges and have real credibility, I think, with the population,” he says, adding they will make sure everyone at these sites know not to use alone.

“At times, they can also witness use if that’s what’s needed to ensure safety, so peers are a big part of the risk mitigation,” says Reid.

In addition, nurse practitioners will be on-site focusing on primary care, but “really it’s a broad scope or primary care because these nurses really do almost everything,” says Reid. Nurses will be going to each of the temporary shelters, and at some of the bigger sites, a clinic will be set up and run for about six hours per day.

“They’re also part of the broad team that will continually be reinforcing the messaging around safe use, providing harm reduction supplies, retrieving needles and things like that,” he says.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirushomeless housingHomelessnessHousing and HomelessnessSafe injection sites

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Overnight shutdown of Highway 1 at McKenzie interchange for sign installation

Traffic will be impacted in both directions, detour available

Reader photos: Sun rises and sets over Oak Bay

Sunrise from an early morning yoga session at Oak Bay Beach Hotel… Continue reading

Canadian warship HCMS Regina sails past Sidney

The vessel recently returned from the world’s largest naval exercise

Wildfire smoke expected to blanket Greater Victoria again

Conditions expected to worsen Wednesday afternoon but not approach levels reached a few weeks ago

Orange Shirt Society launches first textbook on residential school history

Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley worked on the 156-page book to help educate students

Metis pilot Teara Fraser profiled in new DC Comics graphic novel of women heroes

The Canadian pilot’s entry is titled: ‘Teara Fraser: Helping Others Soar’

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan vows to replace B.C.’s shared senior care rooms in 10 years

$1.4 billion construction on top of staff raises, single-site work

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

Orange Shirt Day lessons of past in today’s classrooms

Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, is credited for creating the movement

Greens’ Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

She also criticized the NDP economic recovery plan, arguing it abandons the tourism industry

Most Read