While a grassroots campaign to establish emergency overdose prevention measures in Rutland will continue this week, we have to sympathize with health officials who continue to look for a permanent overdose prevention site in the area and are battling a serious case of Not In My Back Yard.
An initial effort to locate the site at the Living Positive Resource Centre in Rutland had to be dropped after concerns from area businesses prompted a landlord to back out of hosting the site. Some letter-writers chimed in saying the site was close to schools and questioned what others would do, should a site be located near their children’s school.
And it’s a good question.
What would you do if Interior Health found a permanent location to help drug users right in your backyard?
It’s easy to be compassionate to addicts and their struggles when it doesn’t threaten our own personal space.
The sad situation is: No one wants drug users in their neighbourhood.
The Downtown Kelowna Association was quick to prove that when they took a stand against a supervised injection site announced for downtown.
In Rutland the same thing happened when it was announced a site would open there and businesses rebelled. So now, instead of having a permanent location where drug users can be safe, we have a tent set-up in the middle of Rutland at the recently renovated Roxby Square.
Is this really better than having drug users accessing services inside of a building? Are these really designed to help or are people playing politics?
The fact is there is no easy answer. This issue is not going away and people who use drugs and live on the streets will continue to need support and services.
This region needs more detox beds.
Every shelter across the region was full over the holidays. Drug users are often left out on their own.
And now when services are becoming available, Interior Health can’t find a landlord willing to host a site aimed at saving lives.
While we sympathize with Interior Health and what appears to be a lack of support to get a permanent site to help drug addicts, we urge them to find something soon, before the death toll rises.