The Urgency of Collective Civic Action in Canada’s Opioid Crisis: A Closer Look at Victoria Council’s Appeal

Victoria Council urges Westshore municipalities to join forces in combating the opioid crisis through shared resources and comprehensive solutions.

The Need for Collective Civic Action in Canada’s Opioid Crisis: A closer look at Victoria Council’s Call on Westshore

Canada’s opioid crisis is reaching an alarming point, with a surge in reported opioid-related deaths. Devastatingly, British Columbia (BC) is bearing a substantial brunt, where opioid overdoses took 981 lives in 2020, primarily attributable to the toxic illicit drug supply. In a recent article by The Hamilton Spectator, Victoria councillors are calling on Westshore municipalities to contribute their resources and aid in mitigating the crisis.

Victoria: A Magnifying Glass on the National Crisis

Couched within a national crisis, Victoria provides a crucial case study. Here, opioid-related criminal behavior and homelessness are intertwined, creating a complex, multi-faceted issue. The opioid crisis in Victoria has revealed itself indirectly through heightened homelessness and crime rates, underscoring the interconnected nature of social issues and a need for comprehensive solutions.


Currently, Victoria has a disproportionate number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals compared to the Westshore municipalities. The Surrey homeless count survey revealed that the homeless population in Victoria has been intensifying since 2017. Many attribute their homelessness to a combination of high rents, low wages, and substance abuse. The opioid crisis exacerbates this, with many homeless individuals struggling with opioid addiction.


In addition to homelessness, the opioid crisis fuels a rise in crime rates. Substances like opioids, being both illegal and addictive, trigger a cycle of criminal behavior among addicted individuals striving to finance their addiction. As such, Victoria has seen a considerable spike in property crimes. Although most are non-violent, they nevertheless add an additional strain to local law enforcement agencies and the community at large.

Responding to Victoria’s Call: The Westshore’s Role in Mitigating the Crisis

The complexities of the crisis in Victoria have prompted councillors to call on neighboring Westshore municipalities to join the fight against the opioid crisis. They ask Westshore members to take up portions of the homeless population and to increase their efforts in crime prevention, effectively addressing the ripple effects of the opioid crisis.

Addressing Homelessness

To mitigate the homelessness issue, Westshore can contribute by providing additional shelters and affordable housing projects. Also, establishing comprehensive support services – including mental health and addiction resources – is imperative to tackle the opioid crisis’s root causes.

Combatting Crime

Bolstering public security measures, such as enhanced law enforcement and community initiatives in Westshore municipalities, can mitigate rising crime rates. Including opioid addiction treatments in crime reduction strategies can further help break the cyclic relationship between addiction and crime.

Actions Taken: From Local Interventions to National Litigation

Addressing the opioid crisis requires concerted efforts across various levels. Currently, multiple initiatives are underway: individual level interventions, local policy efforts, and national strategies, most notably the opioid class action lawsuits.

  • Naloxone Distribution: Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug, is widely distributed across Canada. Along with education on overdose prevention, it is a powerful tool in saving lives.
  • Local Policies: Victoria has been using harm reduction strategies and public health measures to manage the crisis. This includes establishing supervised consumption sites and providing addiction treatment resources.
  • Opioid Class Action: At a national level, governments are involved in the opioid class action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers. The lawsuit seeks to recover costs of healthcare resources strained by the opioid crisis.

Conclusion: A Call to Action

The opioid crisis presents a challenging situation, made heavier by intersecting issues such as crime and homelessness. However, the Victoria Council’s plea is not an isolated call but is indicative of the collective efforts required to combat this national issue. It is a call to action, not only for Westshore but all municipalities, to join hands in deploying resources, developing policies and sharing responsibility to mitigate the impacts of the opioid crisis.


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