A local panel speaks about the fentanyl overdose crisis in November. Photo: Tyler Harper

2017’s top stories No. 9: Fentanyl crisis tackled locally

Several public events were held at preventing overdose deaths

Nelson organizations met the overdose crisis head-on during a year in which fentanyl claimed a record amount of lives in B.C.

As of November, 10 people had died of overdoses related to fentanyl in the Kootenay Boundary. Just four died of the drug in 2016.

Provincially, 914 people had died from January to September, which shattered last year’s 666 fentanyl-related deaths over 12 months. Even that number was a major increase over the 152 fatalities in 2015.

“It certainly does scare me,” Nelson Police Chief Paul Burkart told the Star in January. “We see the numbers across the province and across Canada, and it’s here. It’s caused overdoses, it’s caused deaths and it needs to be dealt with.”

In an effort to get ahead of the crisis, the Nelson Fentanyl Task Force was created in January. It includes representatives from city council, law enforcement, health providers, educators and social service organizations.

The task force held its first meeting in February, and has since held several public discussions. The latest event earlier this month brought Dr. Mark Tyndall, a provincial expert on the crisis, in to speak to a crowd of about 100 at the Prestige Lakeside Resort.

Meanwhile, other organizations did their part.

The Nelson Street Outreach team carry naloxone kits while walking downtown, and Chloe Sage of ANKORS said a drug checking initiative found nine samples of fentanyl at August’s Shambhala Music Festival.

“If we’re not talking about this, we have our heads in the sand,” said ANKORS executive director Cheryl Dowden.


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