This sign is displayed in the window at the AVI Courtenay office at 355 6th St. The contract for the Overdose Prevention Service, which was to close in March, has been extended to June 15. File photo

Overdose prevention service contract extended in Courtenay

The Overdose Prevention Service (OPS), which was due to be discontinued March 31, will continue to operate at the Courtenay office of AIDS Vancouver Island on Sixth Street until June 15. Island Heath, and AVI Health and Community Services (AVI) made the announcement Monday morning.

“During this time, Island Health will develop a new model of overdose safety services in the Comox Valley that provides individuals with a safe location where they can use substances going forward,” a news release states. “This will be done in collaboration with stakeholders, which include community organizations and people with lived experience. The new model will also broaden the service to encourage more people to access overdose prevention services and other supports.”

Last month, Island Health announced the OPS will no longer be available in Courtenay because AVI lost its contract. The authority said it would continue to “define options for the provision of those services” after March 31.

The OPS began to operate in Courtenay in March 2017. Since then, AVI says the number of clients accessing harm reduction services has more than doubled.

An awareness march about the closure, which had been planned for Tuesday in Courtenay, has been cancelled.

The OPS continues to operate at 355 6th St. Monday to Thursday from 9-11:30 a.m. and from 1-3:30 p.m. It also runs from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Friday to Sunday.

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