Fraser Health application for Surrey safe injection sites submitted

Fraser Health announced Friday it has finished submitting its application to Health Canada for planned safe injection sites in Surrey.

A volunteer picking up stray needles in Whalley.

A volunteer picking up stray needles in Whalley.

SURREY — Fraser Health announced Friday it has finished submitting its application to Health Canada for planned safe injection sites in Surrey.

“We have made excellent progress over the past few months in consulting with our key stakeholders and the community surrounding these sites as part of the formal application process,” said Fraser Health chief medical health officer Dr. Victoria Lee in a press release. “We will continue to have dialogue with Health Canada to move the approval process forward and remain committed to bringing supervised consumption services to Surrey as quickly as possible.”

Fraser Health announced last December it was proposing two sites for supervised consumption services in Surrey to help tackle the ongoing overdose epidemic that took the lives of 914 people in B.C. last year, and another 116 more this past January.

One site is proposed at the 94A Street Quibble Creek Sobering Centre, and another on 135A Street in partnership with Lookout Emergency Aid Society. Both would require Section 56 exemptions to allow them to operate.

On Feb. 1, the Now reported that the health authority hopes to have the sites open as early as this spring.

See more: Surrey safe injection sites may open in spring

See more: Fraser Health proposes two safe injection sites in Surrey

Medical Health Officer Dr. Shovita Padhi recently told Surrey’s public safety committee that drug overdoses – and deaths – are still high. And that it’s not just the street entrenched who need help. Padhi said 70 per cent of the deaths that occurred in the region took place in private residences.

“We need to do a more in-depth analysis,” she told the committee. “Were they interacting with the health care system? Were they taking substitute therapies? Were they males in the resources sector who had injuries, and that led them down path of addiction?

“That is our next phase. We still need to address the individuals who are entrenched and homeless, that is a different population, but for us to really address this crisis and this epidemic… we need to delve deeper into who these individuals are and target out programs effectively,” she said, and find out “who these individuals were first.”

“My inclination is that they were slightly different from the population we’re dealing with on 135A.”

Health Minister Terry Lake says supervised consumption services could help reduce the number of people dying.

“We have strong evidence from Insite that supervised consumption services reduce the transmission of disease, reduce fatal overdoses and help connect people to health care services,” Lake said. “The Province continues to push the federal government to reform the unnecessarily onerous application process, which creates significant barriers and delays in establishing these needed health services.”

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com