Northern Health finds new location for overdose prevention services

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Northern Health has found a location for its new overdose prevention services to address the toxic drug crisis affecting the community.

In a letter to council on November 28th, Northern Health COO Angela De Smit told the city they had signed the lease for the new space at 10067-100th Avenue in Fort St. John. The facility is currently being used as a warming centre for the city’s vulnerable population.

The new facility will provide wraparound harm reduction services, including a safe inhalation space.

Northern Health had been looking for a new space since April after losing their temporary use permit for their last location.

De Smit noted the “detrimental impact” of the toxic drug crisis on residents across the north and that Northern Health has made strategies to mitigate substance use harms and unnecessary deaths an urgent priority.

De Smit said the province had ordered health authorities to provide and support Overdose prevention services in communities wherever there is a need.

“The provincial direction recognizes that there are many organizations that are well placed to implement OPS,” said De Smit.

“In FSJ, the decision has been made for NH to run the OPS program, often offering
extended hours, with flexible outreach opportunities, and providing low barrier service
provision that individuals may feel safer accessing.”

Due to permit processes and construction needed to ensure a safe space, the new overdose prevention service location will not be open any time soon. Northern Health says that tenant improvements to the building should begin in late spring or early summer of 2023. 

Northern Health is also working with Urban Matters to develop a neighbourhood and stakeholder engagement plan. Northern Health will work with surrounding businesses, property owners, and community groups to inform the community about the breadth of services the new location will provide.

The Northern Health region continues to have the highest rate of drug toxicity deaths in 2022, with 56 deaths per 100,000 people.

While the rate is lower in the northeast, according to a recent BC Coroners Service report, there were 21 deaths reported in the region so far this year.

De Smit’s letter can be viewed below:


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