The Small Urban, Rural, and Remote Harm Reduction Project


The Small Urban, Rural, and Remote Harm Reduction Project is about bringing together harm reduction leaders from rural and remote communities in BC, with the understanding that challenges look very different outside of Vancouver. Recognizing that solutions to end the toxic drug poisoning crisis will not be achieved in siloes, this team was brought together to share knowledge, experience, set research and advocacy priorities, and build a network to support harm reduction leaders in our province.

Small urban, rural, and remote (SURR) communities in BC remain disproportionately impacted by high rates of overdose and drug-poisoning related deaths. Recent research has shown fatal overdose as being 20% higher in rural areas of BC as compared to larger urban centres, with increased odds reaching 50% in some rural communities.

Even given the additional challenges faced by rural and remote communities, less attention is being paid to the drug poisoning crisis in small communities in BC.

We formed a team of experts from SURR communities in BC including people with lived and living experience, representatives from health authorities and community-based organizations, and academic allies (see team bios here). With backbone support from PAN and funding from CIHR and the Vancouver foundation, this team has been meeting online since December 2022 and came together for a 1.5 day in-person planning meeting in June 2023. Online working group meetings focus on sharing innovative practices in SURR harm reduction and current research, and time for networking, mutual support and discussing priorities faced by rural and remote communities. The in-person meeting allowed us to explore themes that arose during online meetings, identify research and advocacy priorities, and determine next steps as a group.

While this work is ongoing, the team has identified several priorities that are driving the next steps for this work including research funding applications and advocacy work.

For more information about the SURR Project please contact:
Joanna Mendell, Director of Research and Evaluation, [email protected]