Vernon could get overdose prevention site
An overdose prevention site could be in the works for Vernon.
Interior Health said at least two dozen people in the city died of an overdose last year, but some businesses are worried that the health-care provider might be eyeing a downtown location.
“If there’s one more thing that goes downtown, that will totally kill the downtown,” said Vicki Eide, who owns a tailoring business, adding that she would seriously consider closing her shop.
“We’re done. We’re done with people basically destroying our lives in the name of saving others.”
At this point, the site wouldn’t be a supervised consumption site similar to the RVs in Kelowna and Kamloops because that would require a federal exemption, Interior Health’s Dr. Karin Goodison said.
But the overdose prevention site would have trained people nearby who could respond to an overdose, said Interior Health spokesperson Danielle Cameron.
“We don’t have a confirmed location for it right now. We’re in the planning stages and really talking to some of our providers that would be interested in working alongside with us,” she said.
Business owner Bob Woodman is also worried that downtown Vernon might be an option for the controversial site.
“It’s tough, you know. Every day we come to work and we have people sleeping on our doorstep,” he said. “There are some days when they’re really good, and they say ‘we’ll move’ and that’s not a problem, but the problem occurs when they leave all their garbage there and they say they’re not moving.”
Eide said that officials need to pay more attention to the businesses that are suffering downtown.
“If they’re going to have an overdose prevention site now, how about they have a ‘let’s prevent more businesses from closing.’ Doesn’t that make more sense?” she said. “It’s not fair. We’ve spent our lives doing this.”
Cameron said there is no timeline for when an overdose prevention site might open, but there is money for it in 2019’s budget.