Petition pushes to keep overdose prevention site out of Okanagan city’s downtown

More than 300 business owners and residents say no to Interior Health plan

Pressure is building to keep an overdose prevention site out of downtown Vernon.

Councillor Scott Anderson will present a citizen-initiated petition to Vernon City Council Monday, asking the Interior Health Authority to keep its Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) out of both Vernon’s primary and secondary Business Improvement Areas. He will ask that it be forwarded to IHA for its serious consideration.

See: Downtown Vernon offers suggestions on overdose prevention site

The petition request reads as follows: “We the undersigned are concerned citizens who are opposed to the placement of an Overdose Prevention Site in downtown Vernon, B.C. We say NO!”

Anderson was asked by a local downtown business owner to present the petition, signed by more than 300 downtown business owners and concerned residents.

“This initiative comes directly from the grassroots – business and property owners who are fighting to survive economically in an increasingly disruptive environment, as well as concerned citizens who have every right to expect safety downtown,” said Anderson, citing the Safeworks injection site in Calgary, which created a massive spike in crime when it opened, and the Cornerstone establishment in Kelowna. “If IHA is going to open an OPS, it should be far away from a downtown already suffering from increased lawlessness, vagrancy, and drug sales.”

So far the Vernon Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Business Association, most of City Council, and now a strong grassroots showing have all asked IHA to place the OPS away from the BIA.

See: Chamber pushes for overdose site at Vernon hospital

They have advocated for the Vernon Jubilee Hospital as an ideal site for the OPS.

“Given that the goal is to save lives, the hospital has all the resources and a full spectrum support infrastructure available right on site,” said Anderson. “Further, it is within walking distance of downtown, the (Upper Room) Mission, and the shelter, and it is linked to the public transportation system. It fulfills all the criteria demanded by IHA, including IHA’s advertised goal of balancing the needs of all stakeholders.

“I’ll be frankly shocked if IHA ignores the wishes of most stakeholders. I think everyone wants to help addicted folks, but there has to be a balance between IHA’s harm reduction measures and the impact of those measures on everyone else,” said Anderson.

He maintains that one can help people with addiction while at the same time refusing to tolerate or encourage negative behaviours that arise from addiction.

“My own personal position is that an OPS by its very nature will attract more crime and vagrancy, and IHA should rethink its strategy and focus on treatment instead, but if it insists on opening an OPS, at least put it in a place that makes sense and not downtown,” said Anderson.

Vernon Council will hold a public townhall to allow citizens to voice their opinion of the OPS and other issues surrounding safety and crime in Vernon. Ultimately the decision of if, when and where to put an OPS rests with IHA, and Council has no say in the final outcome.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna heading towards wetter than average September

Kelowna is only 3 milimetres away from the monthly average

It’s playoffs or bust for Okanagan Sun with only 4 games remaining

The Sun return to the Apple Bowl Saturday after a 38-9 win last weekend

Three people taken to hospital after a fire at Rutland home

The fire which was located on the second floor of the townhouse complex is now out

Multiple crashes, including a bus, plague Highway 97

Thursday’s evening commute in Kelowna slowed by collisions

Health minister announces new urgent care centre in Kelowna

Adrian Dix made the annoucment Thursday at the Capri Centre

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

PAW Patrol Live! adds third Penticton show due to pup-ular demand

Fans can now see the heroic pooches at three different showtimes at the SOEC

VIDEO: Want to improve your golf game? This golf ball cannon might work

Strange iron makes appearence at Abbotsford’s fourth annual Smart and Caring Golf Classic

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, crews on scene

Second bat found at Greater Victoria elementary school tests positive for rabies

Island Health confirms second rabies case, this time in Saanich

South Okanagan school bus driver calls out bad drivers

Bus driver said she sees multiple vehicles go by the bus despite having the overhead lights flashing

B.C. man guilty of first-degree murder in Yukon killing

Edward James Penner, 22, was given the mandatory life sentence for the 2017 slaying of 25-year-old Adam Cormack

Woman stabbed at least five times in Nelson during random attack

Victim is in hospital, suspect is in police custody

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

Most Read