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Burlington mayor hopes the city can open Vermont’s first overdose prevention center within a year

A woman in a red and white striped dress stands at a podium.
Liam Elder-Connors
Vermont Public
Burlington Mayor Emma Mulvaney-Stanak speaks to reporters on Tuesday, June 18, about the city’s plans to open the state's first overdose prevention center.

Burlington Mayor Emma Mulvaney-Stanak told reporters on Tuesday that she hopes the city can open an overdose prevention center within the next year. The statement comes a day after the Legislature overrode Gov. Phil Scott's veto of a bill to create a pilot facility in the Queen City.

“I want to make sure we do this right — that we don't rush things or cut corners,” Mulvaney-Stanak said. “We have a great responsibility to the people whose lives that we're trying to save here.”

More from Vermont Public: Here are the bills vetoed by Gov. Phil Scott — and what the Legislature did next

Overdose prevention centers, sometimes known as safe injection sites, are facilities where people can use illegal drugs under medical supervision. Advocates say that they're needed to help curb fatal opioid overdoses in Vermont, which have spiked in recent years.

The city hasn’t determined the location of the facility or who will operate it. The city will also work to make sure the public is “fully engaged” in the process, Mulvaney-Stanak said.

“In the coming weeks, we will be working with city staff to ensure any local barriers are addressed, including zoning and any other legal requirements that are needed,” she said.

More from Vermont Public: 10 years ago, Gov. Peter Shumlin highlighted the opioid crisis. Has Vermont made any progress?

The project will be funded with $1.1 million from the Opioid Abatement Special Fund — a pot of money the state has from settlements with drug companies and pharmaceutical companies whose actions exacerbated the opioid crisis.

The overdose prevention center in Burlington would be the first of its kind in Vermont. Similar facilities operate in New York City and in other countries, like Canada.

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Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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