Chris Van Veen

Job Title
Director, Special Projects

601 West Broadway, Office of the Chief Medical Health Officer

How long have you worked at VCH?
One glorious week

Tell us what you do at VCH in one or two sentences:
I recently joined the Senior Leadership Team at the Office of the Chief Medical Health Officer where I will be engaging municipal governments, community groups, first responders, and people with lived experience to implement the new provincial overdose emergency response.

What’s your favourite thing about your work?
Although I only joined the Senior Leadership Team in early 2018, I worked very closely with VCH staff in my previous job as the lead Urban Health Planner at the City of Vancouver. My favourite memory came in December of 2016, when the provincial government passed a ministerial order granting VCH the discretion to rapidly open several overdose prevention sites in response to the overdose crisis.

The day the order was passed, I was hosting a forum on the overdose crisis at City Hall with Mayor Gregor Robertson, Dr. Patricia Daly and other stakeholders. It was a historic day–almost as though we witnessed a decade of progress on drug policy in just 24 hours. In the weeks that followed, VCH staff worked with the City, BC Housing, and non-profit organizations to get several overdose prevention sites into the community and there is no doubt that those efforts saved countless lives. The overdose prevention sites have since become a best practice and are being replicated all across Canada. It’s this kind of trailblazing that attracted me to VCH.

Which True North goal does your work contribute to the most?
Promote better health for our communities

One thing we might be surprised to learn about you:
Although I’m admittedly a bit bookish, am undoubtedly getting older and slower, I can still hang with the best of the athletic 20-somethings at men’s league basketball. Footwork is everything and a well executed pick and roll is impossible to stop.

Three things you always have in your fridge:
orange juice
assorted olives
Denavolo Catavela

Who or what inspires you?
The strength and resilience of ordinary people, and the authors, songwriters, and filmmakers that capture it.

Most healthy habit:
Taking time to walk my dog every day, no matter what.

Favourite vacation spot:
I’ve got friends and family in the Netherlands and always love to visit.

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