A Nelson advocacy group is gaining support from businesses in opposition towards a safe inhalation site scheduled to be installed by Interior Health at the site of the Nelson Friendship Outreach Clubhouse on Vernon Street.
According to a letter from Interior Health and ANKORS, the safe inhalation site makes sense, especially with the high rate of toxic drug events and a coordinated response is needed to address this health crisis.
Interior Health says inhalation overdose prevention services in Nelson are an important addition to the continuum of health-care services for people who use substances.
However, workers and businesses along Vernon Street say this would be detrimental to the city and province as a whole.
Tanya Finley, who owns a business on Vernon Street, is a mother of two kids, and is a member of Nelson Concerned Community Group says the effects of implementing this site will be felt by residents and business and Interior Health needs to find solutions for them as well.
“What we are forgetting is there is another population who are victims of this scenario,” she says. “Residents and people who work in the area can’t clean up their street because of the amount of fentanyl on the street.
“This is very scary. This one issue is causing a ripple effect throughout the community.”
Finley says the message is still the same, but businesses and residents are just asking it to be in the public eye.
“We need to get them safe and the recovery they [substance users] require, and the mental health support they need,” she says. “At the same time we need to protect all of our citizens particulary youth and children.”
The group has been working closely with the government to invoke change, but Finley says despite their best efforts they aren’t seeing the action they would like to.
“We have been working with our provincial and municipal government to provide them with as much insight as we can,” she says. “We aren’t seeing a ton of change right now, there is stuff being pushed forward without due process and consultation.
“We are now asking the vice-president of Interior Health to provide consultation before any action is taken. Especially around the safety of children, businesses and families in Nelson.”
Interior Health has agreed to answer questions from the community about the concerns the advocacy group has brought forward, but she says it might be too late to stop the inhalation site from going in.
“To my knowledge no one from Interior Health has consulted anyone in the neighbourhood about the site being erected,” she says.
Finley, and the Nelson Concerned Community Group, is asking all residents in the area to sign a circulating petition denouncing the inhalation site and to get in touch with their government to let them know their position on putting an inhalation site in Nelson.
If the site is built it will be within 80-85 metres of children facilities. The group notes current city bylaws around cannabis prohibit retail outlets within 150 metres of these facilities.
We expect to speak to Interior Health on the issue this afternoon.