'No Drug Injection Site' protesters call for Richmond, B.C. councillors to be voted out

Despite Vancouver Coastal Health rejecting a proposal from Richmond, B.C.'s city council to explore a 'stand alone' safe injection site following civil pushback, hundreds of protesters still gathered on Family Day to encourage citizens to vote out the city councillors who wanted the option considered.

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Tensions remain high in Richmond, British Columbia, over the city’s recent passing of a motion to request that Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) explore plans to set up a "safe injection site" near the city’s hospital.

On Monday, well over 300 people chose to spend a good portion of their Family Day gathering at Richmond’s Minoru Park to participate in a "Voice for Kids" rally against politicians supporting a drug site being set up in their community.

The primary message of "no more silence" and "vote them out," displayed both by protest signs and heard in the protesters' chants, differed from the "no more drugs" message communicated during the heated anti-drug site protests that took place at city hall last week.

Although Richmond’s medical health officer previously expressed support to the city council for more so-called overdose prevention options, including ones for inhalation and injections, the VCH authority promptly confirmed in a statement to Global News, the day after the motion passed and the intense protests, that it would not be considering a "stand-alone supervised consumption" facility.

"Based on the latest Public Health data, a stand-alone supervised consumption site is not the most appropriate service for those at risk of overdose in Richmond. Stand-alone sites work best in communities where there is a significant concentration of people at-risk, since people will not travel far for these services," the VCH wrote.

While protesters on Monday celebrated VCH's current position as a win, the bulk of the rallygoers are calling on citizens who feel dismayed by the city’s choice to have passed the motion to vote out the seven out of 10 city councillors who ruled in favour of it.

"Why would we listen to the politicians who have pushed harm reduction when it is making the crisis worse and worse, and it is making it worse and worse for the people suffering from addiction?" said federal Conservative Party candidate for the Richmond Centre–Marpole, Zach Segal, when giving a brief speech during the rally.

"The answer to this crisis is treatment and recovery," said Segal. "By continuing the cycle of addiction, by encouraging safe injection sites, safe supply, and decriminalization, we are not helping people who are addicted. We must get them into treatment and recovery."

Despite the rollout of B.C.’s progressive decriminalization and "safer drug supply" agendas, the province has been experiencing record-breaking overdoses. According to the B.C. Emergency Health Services, paramedics responded to 25% more overdose drug poisoning calls last year, averaging about 3,500 of such calls calls per month.

The B.C. Coroners Service has confirmed that last year over 2,500 deaths in the province were attributed to toxic drug use, 26 of which occurred in Richmond.

If you share the concerns of those opposed to this politically correct, enabling approach to addressing our overdose crises, let our government officials know it’s time for change by signing and sharing our petition at FixOurCities.com.

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