Steering the solutions in Nelson

Nelson is unlike other rural outposts. Our geography and charm set us apart from the average burg

Nelson is unlike other rural outposts. Our geography and charm set us apart from the average burg you find off the beaten path. It’s a magnet for the creative and the courageous.

Nelson’s vibe and culture carries a great number of upsides, but it also brings the inevitable downsides. Its beauty, mild weather and urban-like feel attracts a great range of people. Some of those people need help and a little extra care.

Mental health is often a puzzle for care providers and police. The nature of the illness is unpredictable and at times results in intervention by authorities. Though most who suffer from mental illness carry out regular lives with medication and wise choices, others struggle.

This story takes a look at some of the concerns police and downtown business owners have about the rise in mental health related calls in the community. And unlike many problems that seem difficult to solve, Nelson Police Department chief Wayne Holland looks to be going down a positive road.

In the mid-1980s, the Vancouver Police Department started the Car 87 program. A partnership between the police department and province, the mental health car put a focus on a different approach. By pairing a registered nurse or psychiatric nurse with a police officer, mental health calls were dealt with in a more compassionate and common-sense manner.

Holland — a law enforcement veteran who arrived in Nelson from the Vancouver Police Department — suggests a similar service for Nelson. The goal of the service would be to better deal with mental health calls and free up police to focus on other areas. We fully support his initiative.

Nelson is not like other rural BC communities. We have more big city problems and sometimes that requires big city solutions. Interior Health needs to consider this idea seriously and partner with the municipality in this opportunity to once again make Nelson a leader in small town solutions.