Radical Pragmatism: Inside BC’s lowest barrier shelter

What if we all committed to the de-stigmatization of drug use? What would that look like?



Next Steps

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About the Webinar

The majority of safe injection sites that have opened to combat the ongoing overdose and drug poisoning epidemic exist solely for overdose response. These setting are highly medicalized, with restricted spaces of use, strict rules on movement throughout the space, and high levels of observation from paid employees. While providing an important service, these sites can actually be a major deterrent to many who may feel stigmatized using in such a medicalized environment.  


At New Fountain Shelter (NFS), run by the PHS Community Services Society, they have worked tirelessly to create a community space prioritizing the social engagement of drug use and employed with staff capable of competent and compassionate overdose response with the ultimate goal of normalizing drug use. By allowing for open use in a sheltering context, NFS has found a way to lessen the internalized stigma and shame for drug users by offering a non-judgmental space where community grows out of similar lived experience. 


In this webinar, representatives from New Fountain Shelter discuss what it means to be committed to engaging in drug use as a rational response to emotional and physical pain. Check out the webinar for a walkthrough of the shelter followed by a Q&A where they answer questions related the successes and challenges they’ve faced along the way in creating a truly inclusive shelter environment. 


New Fountain Shelter

New Fountain Shelter, one of the housing programs run by PHS Community Services Society, provides a safe and comfortable place to sleep for individuals who are frequently rejected elsewhere due to substance use, pet ownership, personal belongings or because they fare poorly in institutional settings.

Shelter guests are provided with a hot dinner, a warm breakfast and a bag lunch. The shelter also regularly hosts medical clinics. PHS mental health and outreach workers are on hand to help residents find longer-term, more stable housing, or to obtain social assistance or medical supports.

Organizations Involved

PHS Community Services Society

PHS Community Services Society provides housing, healthcare, harm reduction and health promotion for some of the most vulnerable and under-served people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Victoria.  The Portland Hotel Society (renamed PHS Community Services[…]