ANKORS executive director Cheryl Dowden and Nelson Police Department Chief Paul Burkart listen to a speaker during Tuesday’s Fentanyl Task Force meeting. An overdose prevention site that ran for four days in downtown earlier this month was made public at the meeting. Photo: Tyler Harper

VIDEO: Overdose prevention site opens in Nelson

The temporary pilot project has the support of the Nelson Police Department and Interior Health

An overdose prevention site pilot project that operated in Nelson for four days earlier this month will return for another four days in June.

ANKORS ran the site in the parking lot of its 101 Baker St. location from May 22 to 25. Fourteen people used the service a total of 40 times during that time span, in which there were no overdoses.

The project, which is endorsed but not funded by the Interior Health Authority, was made public Tuesday during a meeting of the Nelson Fentanyl Task Force.

Chief Paul Burkart said the site also has the support of the Nelson Police Department.

“When (ANKORS) first came to me, I had a shocked look on my face, the same that most people do,” said Burkart. “But when I looked into it, it just made sense.

“We’re dealing with the people who are already downtown, the site is downtown, the people are coming from mere blocks away from the site itself. If they weren’t doing the drugs there, they are doing it behind your business or in the bathroom of the restaurant you and your kids are in. Or they are doing it in the park nearby. So they are here and they are doing it. We’re just giving them a place to do it.”

Ten volunteers worked two shifts a day, with one paramedic or nurse onsite at all times. One volunteer also stayed overnight at the location as a security measure.

Alex Sherstobitoff, the Rise Up Community Engagement project co-ordinator at ANKORS, said the organization decided to move forward with the site after an overdose death two months ago he described as the final straw.

“People die here,” he said. “I’ve worked in this field for 18 years here in the Kootenays and I can’t count how many people who have died from overdose and in particular over the last few years. Then when you hear about somebody who is 20 years old … it just kills me. We need to do something more about this.”


ANKORS: Eight local fentanyl overdoses in last week

VIDEO: How to use naloxone to stop a fentanyl overdose

Fentanyl found in over two dozen samples at Shambhala last year

Unlike safe injection sites such as Vancouver’s Insite, overdose prevention sites like the one in Nelson aren’t permanent. There are 27 such locations in B.C., including ones in Kelowna and Kamloops.

Burkart said he initially sought out advice from police in Victoria where overdose prevention sites exist.

“The first word out of the inspector’s mouth was fantastic,” said Burkart. “He talked about his four sites that they have down there. They didn’t do a lot of the things that people were worried about, that they would attract crime, a bunch of drug addicts sitting around in their community, that there would be overdoses happening outside. None of that happened. There wasn’t drug dealing going on outside these places.”

It’s unclear how long ANKORS will continue with the project.

Currently the site is scheduled to re-open June 26 to 30. Sherstobitoff said the ANKORS will require core funding to ensure it continues. An estimated $60,000 to $100,000 is needed to run the site per year, according to ANKORS executive director Cheryl Dowden.

Burkart, however, said he expects the site will be in Nelson for the foreseeable future.

“The bottom line is hopefully in the future once these other measures, treatment and education, go on we might not need these overdose prevention sites. But the reality is we do now.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Nelson Reflections win at synchro provincials

Nelson’s synchronized swimming team triumphed at the Jean Peters Provincial Championship

Here we go again: Mamma Mia! set to open at the Capitol Theatre

The ABBA-inspired musical runs Thursday to Sunday

LETTERS: The other side of the Women’s Centre story

From readers Vita Luthmers and Hannah Hadikin

Nelson holds the line on property taxes

No increase this year thanks to deal with RDCK on park funding

West Kootenay opinion sought on health care issues

Rural Evidence Review getting strong response to survey call-out

Kelowna toddler suffers cracked skull after fall from balcony

Neighbour who found the two-year-old boy said he has a bump the size of a golf ball on his head

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Man in B.C. charged with murder and arson in 2016 New Brunswick death

He is charged in the death of 71-year-old Lucille Maltais, who was found inside a burned down home

Improve your life and theirs, adopt a cat from the BC SPCA

The BC SPCA holds an adult cat adoption promotion

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Most Read