P.E.I. picks home for overdose prevention site

The provincial government already owns the building at 33 Belmont St. in Charlottetown. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
The provincial government already owns the building at 33 Belmont St. in Charlottetown. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)

The P.E.I. government has selected a location for the overdose prevention site planned for Charlottetown.

The location will be at 33 Belmont Street, in the east end of the city.

The site has a number of advantages, said provincial harm reduction co-ordinator Shawn Martin. It is a provincially-owned building, so renovations will be able to start right away. It is also within a 20-minute walk of related services, the overnight emergency shelter, the Community Outreach Centre, and the Queen Street methadone clinic.

"P.E.I. is in new territory with respect to opioid-related overdoses. We're seeing an increase in the number of overdoses year over year," said Martin.

submitted by Shawn Martin
submitted by Shawn Martin

"Fentanyl is increasingly present in the illicit drug supply in P.E.I. There is a need to establish a service as quickly as possible."

The overdose prevention site will provide a space for people to consume previously-obtained substances, with staff on hand to intervene if there is a problem, as well as to provide information on access to services if the clients are looking for help.

The goal is to open the centre in the spring. That opening will be dependent on getting renovations done on time. In addition, the province is still looking for an operator for the site, and that operator will need time to hire and train staff.

'Waiting for years'

Green Party health critic Michele Beaton was pleased to hear the announcement, but said it has been a long time coming, and she is waiting to hear other details.

"It has to have adequate funding. This isn't a pilot project. It cannot be a pilot project. The service that is provided is way too essential," said Beaton.

Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada
Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada

"The government needs to get off their hands and actually do the hard work in implementing this service because we've been waiting for years and we are way behind the 8-ball on it."

The government also announced a community engagement plan to answer any questions area residents might have. Public consultation on the location should have started earlier, said Beaton, to ensure the community is behind the project.