No needle exchange at addiction centre: owner
An addiction centre's lease terms rule out a needle exchange on the site, an owner of the building said yesterday.
John Hayes, co-owner of the building at 1250 Quadra St. and president of Newport Property Management, which looks after it, said the lease with the Vancouver Island Health Authority specifically excludes a needle exchange in the building.
Hayes said the special clause was inserted about six years ago out of concern for other tenants in the building, which include the B.C. Automobile Association and Starbucks.
Last week, it was revealed the health authority was considering handing out needles and other drug paraphernalia at its Addiction Outpatient Treatment office.
The centre was one of 60 sites being considered for needle distribution as part of the authority's harm-reduction efforts, intended to stop the spread of diseases like AIDS or hepatitis C through sharing of used needles.
Specialists who treat addicts working to get clean have said joining addiction treatment and harm reduction is a bad fit, since just the sight of needles could be a trigger for an addict to use again.
Suzanne Germain, spokeswoman for the health authority, said terms of the lease are being examined. But Germain said needles will likely not be exchanged in the treatment centre, since VIHA opted in November for what it's called a "distributive approach" to harm reduction in Victoria. Instead of a single needle exchange, sterile drug gear would be available at various operations around the city, such as public health clinics.
That decision ended a controversy stretching back before 2008, when a fixed needle exchange operated on Cormorant Street. Neighbours were outraged by public disturbances by addicts and discarded debris, until the landlord finally evicted the operation.