Nearly 1,000 wooden crosses were driven into the grass at Crab Park yesterday in recognition not of death, but of each life saved from overdose at Vancouver’s supervised injection site.
InSite was granted an exemption from federal narcotic laws, which expires on June 30, and operators of the facility are in B.C. Supreme fighting to keep the facility open.
Mark Townsend with PHS Community Services Society, which co-manages InSite, said the vigil was to let Prime Minister Stephen Harper “visualize the number of overdoses taking place at the supervised injection site.”
“No one has died because there’s been nurses and medical people (on hand),” Townsend said. “We’re trying to say, ‘Please look at the effect the supervised injection site has continued to make.’ ”
Addicts, he said, are going to use drugs whether InSite is there or not, but it saves lives by reducing overdoses and the spread of infection.
Neil Boyd, a professor in criminology at Simon Fraser University, was recently commissioned by the federal government to study the impact of InSite on crime rates in the Downtown Eastside.
He found that while it didn’t necessarily have an effect on crime, it did reduce public drug use and saved taxpayers money in health costs.
Health Minister Tony Clement is expected to decide whether or not to extend InSite’s exemption near the June 30 deadline.