Past Events

Thursday September 23rd, 6:30pm - City Hall, Pandora St. Entrance

Victoria Coalition Against Poverty, Harm Reduction Victoria, Society of Living Intravenous Drug Users, Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group, The Committee to End Homelessness, and the Action Committee of People with Disabilities are united and speaking out at City Hall to show our opposition to the proposed amendment to the Streets and Traffic Bylaw “To Better Regulate Boulevards and Medians.” This law would make it illegal to sleep on boulevards such as the green at Pandora Ave. It has become obvious that the intent behind this proposed amendment is to further criminalize poverty and homelessness in our city.

City Council is holding a public hearing on the proposed amendment and speakers will be given air on a “first come first serve” basis. Join us at 6:30 and flood city hall with our voices! Even if you don't want to speak join us in support. Let's outnumber the NIMBY voices and speak our discontent with city halls proposed amendment!

You do not need to sign up to speak, however if you want to send a message to city hall, sign up anyway! Follow the link below.

How to sign up: online @
Or you can fill out the attached form and send it in yourself. You don’t need to include many details about motivation to speak unless you care to.

We also want to encourage people to send emails to the mayor and councilors to let them know that you do not support the proposed amendment to the streets and traffic by-law.


Groups demand a moratorium of evictions of tenters on Pandora Green

August 31, 2010, Victoria – Representatives from four nonprofit organizations are holding a press conference to oppose the City of Victoria’s proposed amendment to the streets and traffic bylaw.

The amendment, which bans camping on boulevards and medians, would displace the City residents tenting at night on the boulevard of Pandora Street’s 900-block.

The Committee to End Homelessness, Harm Reduction Victoria, the Society of Living Intravenous Drug Users and the Victoria Coalition Against Poverty will be available for interviews prior to City Council’s Thursday morning meeting. At 10:00 am, group members will move into the City Council meeting to demonstrate their opposition to the proposed amendment.

All four groups, whose membership includes past and present street-involved community members, demand a moratorium on the displacement of the Pandora Green tenters until a suitable consultation process is implemented.

The groups demand that Council respect the Ross Supreme Court decision and refrain from prohibiting camping until appropriate housing, support and health care are in place.

Press Conference

Date: Friday, September 3, 2010
Time: 9:30 am
Place: City Hall, Pandora Street Entrance
Media representatives from the Committee to End Homelessness, Harm Reduction Victoria, the Society of Living Intravenous Drug Users and the Victoria Coalition Against Poverty will be available for interviews

- 30-

For more information: Renée Ahmadi, 250-704-9665;
Tamara Herman, 250-857-9768


Sick of seeing a health crisis on our streets?

==> **YES** <==

May 31, 2010, 12:00 pm
Ministry of Health, 1515 Blanshard Street, Victoria, Coast Salish and Straits Salish Territories, B.C

Gather for food, music, and a lunch-hour street party!
Tell the Ministry of Health that two years of inaction is too long!

Let government and public health officials know we say YES to harm reduction services in our backyard!

Victoria’s only fixed-site needle exchange was forced to close on May 31, 2008. Since then, the needle and syringe distribution in the City of Victoria remains inadequate and violates international health guidelines on HIV/AIDS prevention.

A needle exchange is an important component of comprehensive harm reduction services. Harm reduction services are essential health care service. People's lives are at risk without access to these services.

People who use illicit drugs have the same rights as any other citizen to safely access health care services when and where they need them. These rights are being violated.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), the City of Victoria, and the B.C. Ministry of Health are ALL complicit in violating the rights of thousands of community members.

VIHA discontinued plans to open harm reduction services sites in two locations: on Pandora Street in June, 2008, and the Burnside-Gorge area in September, 2009. Government officials, VIHA and the City of Victoria appear to be paying close attention to the few Victoria residents who oppose having basic health services in “their backyards”. In doing so, they are ignoring the thousands who rely on harm reduction services and\or support harm reduction services.

Denying our some of our community's most marginalized and stigmatized citizens access to essential health care services is unconscionable and a violation of peoples’ rights to health. Harm reduction services make cities safer for everybody. Come out and make the message clear: We say “YES” to harm reduction in our backyard!

HRV has four campaign demands:
1. Abolish the VIHA 'no-service area'
2. Establish fixed site needle exchanges
3. Create supervised consumption services
4. Adopt a new “Four Pillars” Strategy

For more information:
To get involved:

May 31, 2010 will mark 2 years without a central location for people who use illicit drugs to access safer drug use supplies and support from their peers, outreach staff and street nurses. We've had 2 years of punitive, regressive harm reduction service delivery thanks to the Vancouver Island Health Authority and the Victoria Police Department, and absolutely no progress on the provision of supervised consumption services despite a decade of research and reports calling for them. The Mayor and Council of the City of Victoria say Harm Reduction is one of their top priorities. We invite you to join us in making City Hall keep its promise! As we get ready for May 31, help us make sure the City hears our demands loud and clear.

You can help by showing up on April 15 and by SIGNING UP TO REQUEST TO SPEAK AT THE APRIL 15 COUNCIL MEETING. Please sign up, and please join us on April 15! HRV is also collecting these request forms from people who use drugs to ensure that their voices are heard.

Fernwood Books and Harm Reduction Victoria invite you to a book launch for:

Raise Shit! Social Action Saving Lives

With authors Susan Boyd, Donald MacPherson & Bud Osborn

Thursday, March 4, 2010

6:00 pm

Solstice Café, 529 Pandora Avenue, Victoria, Lekwungen Territories, BC

Raise Shit! Social Action Saving Lives tells a story about community activism in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (DTES) that culminated in a social justice movement to open the first official safe injection site in North America. This story is unique: it is told from the point of view of drug users — those most affected by drug policy, political decisions and policing. It provides a montage of poetry, photos, early Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) meetings, journal entries from the Back Alley, the “unofficial” safe injection site, and excerpts from significant health and media reports. The harms of prohibition, and resistance, hope, kindness, awakening and collective action are chronicled in these pages.

Susan Boyd is a professor at the University of Victoria. Donald MacPherson is the former Drug Policy Coordinator for the City of Vancouver. Poet Bud Osborn is a founding member of VANDU. Susan, Donald and Bud have been active for many years working on social justice issues that both strengthen and sustain the community in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver.

A question and discussion period will follow the launch presentation. This event is free and all are welcome.

For more information on Raise Shit! Social Action Saving Lives:

Press Release
For immediate release

Harm Reduction Victoria releases Guerrilla Needle Exchange distribution and recovery results, plans for community forum

Victoria, Coast Salish Territories, September 8th, 2009 - Harm Reduction Victoria (HRV) closed down the Guerrilla Needle Exchange (GNX) with a final shift on Sunday August 30th, 2009.

HRV erected the temporary site on the corner of Pandora and Vancouver on May 31st to mark the one year anniversary of the closure of the Cormorant Street needle exchange. The GNX was also established in opposition to VIHA’s no-go-zone surrounding St. Andrew’s School .

“The GNX has distributed almost 7500 syringes and recovered approximately 5000 in 3 months. VIHA is clearly in denial of the immediate health care needs within that 2 block radius,” said Kim Toombs, spokesperson for HRV. “The no-go-zone is a simply a risk aversion tactic on the part of VIHA; they have not done the necessary education and outreach in the community to address the concerns of the school or the other neighbours.”

HRV continues to support people who use illicit drugs, and with recent developments around a potential site for a new fixed site needle exchange, it believes that community support is more important than ever.

“We are no further ahead with comprehensive health services for people who use illicit drugs than we were prior to the closure Cormorant St. location”, says Heather Hobbs of HRV. “We recognize the lack of site choice and the desperation people face. A new fixed site is a critical part of harm reduction in Victoria but we still need comprehensive services, including multiple sites providing the full gamut of harm reduction supplies, a variety of service delivery options, and supervised consumption services. Most importantly, people who use drugs must be involved in the development, delivery and evaluation of these services.”

Harm Reduction Victoria is currently developing an education series about health services and harm reduction.

“Due to the lack of appropriate education and information coming from VIHA, we feel that it is important for people to have access to accurate information about harm reduction in a local context”, says Heather Hobbs, a spokesperson for Harm Reduction Victoria.

To kick start the education series, on October 1st, 2009 HRV will be holding an event called "InForum: Still Not Fixed.” The InForum will discuss how health facilities like needle exchanges and supervised injection sites can operate safely within communities.

For information:

Kim Toombs, 250-893-0853,

Guerrilla Needle Exchange to Continue in “No-Go Zone”

Harm Reduction Victoria to provide ongoing harm reduction services at Pandora and Vancouver Streets

Victoria, Coast Salish Territories, June 5th, 2009 - Harm Reduction Victoria has vowed to continue its Guerrilla Needle Exchange (GNX) and morning clean-up “rig digs” due to the overwhelming demand for harm reduction services within the “no-go zone”.

HRV has distributed over 2000 needles from the corner of Vancouver and Pandora streets since last Sunday, when the GNX was installed to commemorate the one-year closure of the Cormorant Street fixed-site needle exchange.

“We’re continuing our service because we’ve seen how essential our presence has been to the health and safety of the whole community”, said Harm Reduction Victoria spokesperson Heather Hobbs. “We want to be clear, though, that we are not service providers. We are very unhappy about having to do VIHA’s job”.

The GNX is located in the “no-go zone”, which bars mobile needle exchange workers from distributing safer drug use supplies in an area that spans west-to-east from Blanshard to Chambers and north-to-south from Balmoral to Yates. The “no-go zone” is sanctioned by the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA).

After a week of nightly operations, the GNX will now operate Wednesday and Sunday evenings from 7-11 pm. The morning clean-up “rig digs”, which have been in operation throughout the GNX, will also continue on Thursday and Mondays. The “rig digs” complement existing clean-up services.

"The existence of the ‘no-go zone’, the lack of supervised consumption services and the closure of the needle exchange represent unfair and discriminatory treatment on the part of VIHA”, said HRV spokesperson Kim Toombs. “We’ve waited over one year now, and we will pursue each and every possible means to make sure that drug users have access to essential health services.”

HRV is demanding the immediate end of the “no-go zone”. It is also calling for the immediate opening of fixed site needle exchanges and supervised consumption services.

For information:

Kim Toombs, 250-893-0853,


Victoria, May 27, 2009 – The March for Dignity will take place in Victoria on Sunday, May 31st to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the eviction of the city’s only fixed site needle exchange.

The March for Dignity will demand the immediate end to the “no-service zone” condoned by the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA). The “no-service zone” bars the mobile exchange from collecting and distributing drug use supplies in an area that spans from west-to-east from Blanshard to Chambers and north-to-south from Balmoral to Yates.

The March for Dignity will also call for the immediate opening of fixed site needle exchanges and supervised consumption services.

Speakers from the Society for Living Intravenous Drug Users (SOLID), the Street Advocacy Group (SAG), the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), and Harm Reduction Victoria will address the march at several points along its route.

The March for Dignity

Date: Sunday, May 31st
Departure time: 12:00 pm
Departure point: Vancouver and Pandora

Press Conference: 11:30 am

Photos from the March for Dignity on May 31st

Credit to Véroniqe da Silva Photography for these beautiful photos.

More than just needles: A forum on community health and reducing harm

Co-hosted by AIDS Vancouver Island, the Centre for Addictions Research of BC, and the BC Mental Health and Addictions Research Network

APRIL 7, 6-8:30pm
Ambrosia Centre, 638 Fisgard
By donation

Dr. Thomas Kerr, Director, Urban Heath Research Initiative, BC Centre for Excellence for HIV/AIDS, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, UBC

Mark Haden, Clinical Supervisor, Addictions Services, Vancouver Coastal Health and Drug Policy Educator

Dr. Bernie Pauly, Assistant Professor, UVIC School of Nursing and Research Associate, Centre for Addictions Research BC

Please join us to discuss a vision of how needle exchanges and harm reduction can be part of a safe and healthy community.

A panel of compelling speakers will make short presentations about the prevention of harms associated with substance use followed by an interactive question period.

This event is co-sponsored by AIDS Vancouver Island, the Centre for Addictions Research of BC, and the BC Mental Health and Addictions Research Network and will be moderated by CBC's Gregor Craigie.

For more information call (250) 384-2366 ext 112 or email andrea.langlois(at)

Download the poster here.



Victoria, November 27, 2008 – Harm Reduction Victoria will distribute and collect syringes and other drug-use supplies in an area where the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) has banned AIDS Vancouver Island's Street Outreach Services (SOS) from providing harm reduction services on Sunday, November 30th.

"We're marking the six month anniversary of closing of the Cormorant Street Needle Exchange by ensuring that an essential health service is provided for drug users, even if only for a few hours" said Harm Reduction Victoria' s Kim Toombs of Sunday's temporary needle exchange site. "This is a symbolic action that will also meet peoples' basic needs"

Needle distribution and collection rates have dropped by roughly 23% since the Cormorant Street exchange was forced to close on May 30, 2008. No progress has been made on finding a replacement site.

"The mobile needle exchange that is currently operating is largely insufficient, and the 'no-go' zone renders a crisis situation worse" said Victoria Counsellor Philippe Lucas. The 'no-go' zone established by VIHA bars the mobile exchange from collecting and distributing drug use supplies in an area which spans from west-to-east from Blanshard to Chambers and north-to-south from Balmoral to Yates.

"We're talking about essential health care, which is a right for all people, including drug users" said UVIC Professor Dr. Susan Boyd. "Evidence shows that services provided by safe consumption sites and needle exchanges save lives, reduce the transmission of diseases and keep our cities healthy."


DATE: Sunday, November 30th, 2008

TIME: 2 pm

LOCATION: Pandora Avenue and Vancouver Street

INFORMATION: (250)-893-0853 or

FIX VICTORIA: a community dialogue on the public health crisis resulting from the loss of harm reduction services in Victoria

Save the Needle Exchange! Support Harm Reduction!

Thursday, September 18, 2008
7:00pm - 9:00pm
First Metropolitan United Church
932 Balmoral Rd
Victoria, BC

Admission: donations gratefully accepted (no one turned away)

View Map
For more information, please visit

or call 250-884-9821 or 250-477-8546

FIX Vitorai

Design by Campbell Media (campbellmedia AT

Harm Reduction Victoria and HepCBC present an event hosted by Victoria City Councillor Sonya Chandler:

An evening with Dr. Gabor Maté, physician and author of "Taming the Hungry Ghost: Understanding Addiction"

When: Wednesday, July 30th, 7:30 pm
Where: Alix Goolden Hall (907 Pandora Ave.)
Admission: by donation; books will be sold at the venue.

Please join us for an intimate examination of how addiction affects all of our lives.

For more information or for interview opportunities, please contact Philippe Lucas: 250-884-9821

Financial support for this event kindly provided by VanCity, the Center for Addictions Research of British Columbia, and the B.C. Mental Health and Addictions Research Network.

Joint HRV and HepCBC showing of Bevel Up:

    • 7-9pm on Thursday, June 12th at the Jubilee Hospital Woodward Rm (Begbie Building, 2101 Richmond St.)
    • The movie is 45 minutes long and will be followed by speakers who will speak about the work of their organizations and their personal experiences. Questions and community dialog to follow

Confirmed speakers:

Erin Gibson – SOS

Barb Cavill – VARC

Needle Exchange Vigil

  • 6 pm on Tuesday, June 2nd on the greenway (grass in the middle of the road) at Pandora and Vancouver (see Map).
  • As of June 1, 2008, Victoria's fixed site Needle Exchange on Cormorant Street will be closed for good. There is no new site for the Exchange and as a consequence, the provision of clean needles and other harm reduction supplies will be carried out by a mobile exchange service. Mobile exchanges may not be able to reach all clients and make needle exchange more visible than at a fixed site. In consequence, many clients may choose to reuse old needles or share needles rather than making an open appearance at a mobile service. The potential for an increase in HIV, Hepatitis C and bacterial infection rates is therefore very real. For the health and personal equality of our community, a fixed site needle exchange is a must!

Please come out and show your support for a fixed site needle exchange service now!<