Have a look inside the Yukon's first ever supervised consumption site

    Exterior of the supervised consumption site from 6th Ave.

    The site will provide a safe and hygienic environment for people to use drugs.

    This morning media got a chance to check out the Yukon’s first ever supervised consumption site ahead of its official opening later this week.


    “Harm reduction approaches to substance use saves lives. It’s just simply, that simple,” says Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee.


    The facility, located at 6189 6th Avenue in Whitehorse, will provide a safe and hygienic environment for people to use drugs under the watchful eye of qualified medical professionals, led by Blood Ties Four Directions.


    On the outside, there is a front entrance, as well as a backdoor for those who want to be discreate. When a client enters the building, they are greeted by a support worker who asks if they have used the facility before. Then they are asked what they plan on consuming and what equipment they need. No personal identity information is taken down. Clients are assigned a code name that they are comfortable with to protect privacy.


    Inside is a bit like an open concept apartment. There are five booths, two on one wall and three on another, where people can inject, ingest, or snort their drugs. There are plans to convert a bathroom to a smoking room for one more consumption option. Each booth is separated by a wooden divider and has a desk with a red equipment disposal bin and a chair. There’s also an adjacent waiting area for when all of the booths are in use.


    There is a desk near the consumption area where a paramedic or nurse will be stationed at the ready to respond to people’s needs and keep them safe. Naloxone and oxygen are quickly accessible in the event of an overdose.


    There’s also a chill out area with a tv, computer, and games for people to come down in before they leave.


    Right now the place is pretty bare bones, but there are plans to add art and decorations with help from those that use the site.


    Blood Ties Executive Director Brontë Renwick-Shields says for the first few weeks they will only be able to have two or three individuals using the site at a time while they sort out staffing.


    “Staffing is challenging in the Yukon right now and we are still in the process of hiring some of our support workers,” says Renwick-Shields.


    “We have hired the team lead and supervisor for the site, and so we will be opening the site to a reduced number of clients initially, with hopes to amp that up with fully trained staff in the next few weeks. We aim to hire staff as quickly as we can, but we recognize that staffing is a challenge in the Yukon right now and so, we still are waiting on some of our hires, but are in the process of interviews currently.”


    Much like the rest of the country, the Yukon is facing the opioid crisis. So far this year, 14 Yukoners have lost their lives due to illicit drug use, that’s a 40 percent increase from 2020.


    McPhee says the next step in fighting the crisis is a safe drug supply. She says that is something the government is currently working on.


    The supervised consumption site was originally set to open on August 31, but the date was pushed back to account for renovations, staff training and to finalize details. It will now open its doors this Wednesday.


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