Inside the battle to open Insite 20 years ago, and why it never ended

published on September 15, 2023 by Lori Culbert in Vancouver Sun

Longtime drug-user Dean Wilson was one of many advocates who fought to open North America’s first supervised injection site in Vancouver 20 years ago. They were an eclectic group that included former drug-users, community activists, a conservative mayor and middle-class parents of addicted children.

Following a years-long legal and moral battle, the contentious facility prepared to open its doors on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2003, on East Hastings Street, the epicentre of Vancouver’s HIV and heroin-overdose crisis. Wilson recalls sitting that day in the “chill room” with Mark Townsend, co-founder of the non-profit group that fought hard for Insite.

“Do you want to be the first to use it?” Wilson remembers Townsend asking him.

“Well, of course I do. Are you crazy? I spent my whole life on this — well, the last three years of my life,” he responded…

View the full article