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Toxic drug deaths soar in Nelson, Trail in 2023

Both cities set new fatality records according to annual data
Nelson has again set a record for deaths due to the toxic drug supply. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Record numbers of people in the Nelson and Trail areas died last year due to the ongoing toxic drug supply.

New statistics released Jan. 24 by the BC Coroners Service show 16 people died in Nelson in 2023, up from 11 the previous year. Trail meanwhile had 11 fatalities, nearly doubling its record of six set in 2021.

Those numbers are not confined to city limits. Nelson’s local health area includes Salmo and parts of the Slocan Valley, while Trail’s area includes Rossland.

Elsewhere in the West Kootenay, Grand Forks had six deaths followed by Castlegar’s four and one each in the Arrow Lakes, Kootenay Lake and Creston areas.

Calls for service related to overdoses and drug poisonings also more than doubled in Nelson and Trail.

BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) says there were 225 calls in Nelson in 2023 over the 108 recorded in 2022. In Trail the increase was even greater, from 90 to 223 calls.

Grand Forks also saw a rise in calls for paramedics with 66, while the need for service dropped in Castlegar (30) and Creston (16).

Provincially, last year was the worst on record for B.C. since the toxic drug crisis was declared in 2016. The Coroners Service said 2,511 people died, while BCEHS reported 42,172 calls or more than 8,500 than were answered in 2022.


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Tyler Harper

About the Author: Tyler Harper

I’m editor-reporter at the Nelson Star, where I’ve worked since 2015.
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