New West residents are invited to visit the new safe consumption site and learn about the wide variety of services offered at the new facility.
Services at the new health contact centre in New Westminster have been up and running since April 7, but a grand opening is taking place on Wednesday, April 21.
“April 2021 marks five years since B.C.’s public health officer declared a public health emergency in response to the rising number of deaths resulting from drug contamination. Since 2016, we have lost over 130 New Westminster residents,” said a statement from the Purpose Society, which is running the facility. “We continue to see overdose deaths reach unprecedented records with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Effective overdose response interventions are more important now than ever. The health contact centre in downtown New Westminster reflects a community that is both compassionate and inclusive.”
The centre is home a variety of services, including safe witnessing services so people can use drugs in a supervised setting to prevent overdose deaths.
The Purpose Society is holding a grand opening event in order to give community members a chance to visit the health contact centre and to help address the stigma surrounding drug use.
In a statement to the Record, the Purpose Society stated it understands concerns may arise as it begins to implement these services.
Community members are invited to visit the site on Wednesday, April 21 from noon to 3 p.m., when they can meet the team, ask questions and help raise awareness about the drug-poisoning crisis.
COVID-19 protocols are in place so people must book times for their visit.
Concerned about the poisoned drug crisis, New Westminster city council directed staff last July to work with the Fraser Health Authority on the establishment of an overdose prevention site and the implementation of a safe supply program.
On March 29, council approved a temporary use permit that allows the Purpose Society and Fraser Health to operate a health contact centre at 40 Begbie St. Now open, services at the facility include witnessed consumption, drug testing, harm reduction supplies, take-home naloxone kits, training on naloxone, education on safer drug use, a medical clinic, nutritional information, and referral to treatment centres and health services.