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

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

Lightning in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms overnight

(Dave Ogilvie/Contributed)
UPDATE: West Kelowna fire crews rescue injured mountain biker

The injury took place at the top of Smith Creek Road

Kelowna flags were flown at half-mast after the discovery of a residential school burial site in Kamloops. (File photo)
Central Okanagan school board chair reflects on recent tragedies

Moyra Baxter offers condolenses to residential school victims, slain Muslim family

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Most Read