Mayor, Council Approve New Investments to Address Fentanyl Opioid Crisis

January 25, 2017 | Safer Communities

Today, Vancouver City Council  approved the first round of new investments out of $3.5 million allocated to address the fentanyl opioid crisis. The new funding comes on the heels of new data from Vancouver Coastal Health showing Vancouver had the highest number (215) and highest rate of deaths of all BC cities in 2016.

City staff will be reporting back in the coming weeks with the next phase of City investments to address the fentanyl opioid crisis, which will go towards programs that support front-line peer workers and people with lived experience.  

“The fentanyl opioid crisis is affecting all corners of Vancouver and it has never been more urgent to act. This first phase of investments in our first responders and community policing volunteers are tangible actions the City can take within our control to support our front-line workers,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The City continues to do more than its share to combat the fentanyl crisis but we’re at a breaking point - we need urgent investments from the BC and Federal governments to provide expanded access to addictions treatment, substitution therapy and detox, which are crucial to saving lives.”

Today, Council approved the allocation of $2.2 million towards new measures and resources that include:

  • Continued support for Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services’ mobile medic unit in the Downtown Eastside (ongoing cost of $1.9 million);
  • More naloxone and mental health and addictions training for City staff in the community likely to encounter overdoses (up to $10,000);
  • A new, volunteer-led Community Policing Centre in Strathcona to support community safety and enhance quality of life, (one-time cost of $100,000 and an ongoing cost of $108,000); and
  • More support for the 11 existing Community Policing Centres across Vancouver ($220,000).

"The Strathcona BIA is grateful to the City of Vancouver for its leadership and support of a Community Policing Centre in our neighbourhood. A Community Policing Centre will help with the delivery of many services and quickly disseminate critical information to people across Strathcona,” said Joji Kumagai, Executive Director of the Strathcona BIA.  “While a Community Policing Centre won't solve the opioid crisis on its own, we feel it will play an essential role in more effectively mobilizing the citizens of this community and strengthening the connections between residents, businesses, agencies and institutions, proactively creating a safe, healthy and resilient neighbourhood."

The additional $3.5 million in funding in response to the public health crisis was approved by Council through a 0.5% property tax increase in December. To date, the City’s front-line response to the fentanyl opioid crisis includes:

  • $55,000 to accommodate a Mobile Medical Unit at 58 Hastings operated by Vancouver Coastal Health to enhance emergency care for overdose patients and provide immediate access to addictions treatment.
  • $43,000 to staff an additional Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services Medic Unit in the Downtown Eastside.
  • $9,000 to coordinate a Downtown Eastside naloxone training events with partners, including drug users, provided hundreds with training and naloxone kits.