Advocates from Moms Stop the Harm and Rural Empowered Drug Users Network met outside the Cenotaph in Trail on April 14 to raise awareness of the overdose and opioid crisis. Photo: Jim Bailey

Advocates from Moms Stop the Harm and Rural Empowered Drug Users Network met outside the Cenotaph in Trail on April 14 to raise awareness of the overdose and opioid crisis. Photo: Jim Bailey

Trail city council hears from opioid crisis delegation

Crash course shared in how and why addiction is triggered

Trail city council joined Rossland and other communities across the country in petitioning the federal government to declare the overdose crisis a national emergency.

A delegation that included Moms Stop the Harm representative Tammy McLean, Sheila Adcock from Career Development Services (CDS), Amber Streukens from AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society (ANKORS), and Lisa Kavaloff from Rural Empowered Drug Users Network (REDUN) met with council over Zoom on May 10 to provide a powerful presentation on how the overdose crisis has affected every community.

The delegation asked the city to continue to work on a plan to create an overdose prevention site, address the homeless population in Trail, and listen to people who have experienced homelessness and addiction.

Since 2016, a tainted drug supply has seen the number in overdose deaths increase rapidly with the majority of opioid-toxicity deaths caused by fentanyl present in cocaine, ecstasy, and crystal meth.

In 2020 there were over 1,716 suspected overdoses, a 74 per cent increase from 2019, when 984 people died. In the Kootenay Boundary there were 20 deaths last year, however, in the first three months of 2021, there have already been eight opioid-toxicity deaths.

“COVID has definitely had an impact in that the drug supply is becoming increasingly toxic, and people are trying to isolate and not get COVID, and so we’re finding a lot more people are dying of opioid deaths,” said McLean.

The delegation offered a crash course to council in how and why addiction is triggered, and Kavaloff shared her own devastating experience with child welfare, substance abuse, homelessness and addiction.

For Kavaloff, a safe supply of drugs is required for users, along with low barrier housing providing harm reduction services.

Streukens presented an overview of the benefits of an overdose prevention site (OPS), which gives people a safe space to use drugs under the care of trained professionals who ensure the drugs are tested before use.

It also offers services such as counselling, substance use treatment referrals, and some health services. The underlying statistic is that there have been no deaths reported at OPS.

“In addition to preventing fatal overdose and connecting people who use drugs with supports and services,” said Streukens. “OPS can benefit the greater community in many ways, some of the clear advantages include reduced public drug use and improperly disposed supplies.

“But the more subtle advantages come from that wrap-around care that can be provided at OPS, it’s a safe non-judgemental space for people who use drugs, and therefore acts as a unique point of care and support and can be really stabilizing for folks who use the space and also the community at large.”

For Adcock, the service the La Nina shelter and CDS provides has been vital, but their resources are stretched. She hopes to keep the community informed and is intent on de-stigmatizing the perception communities hold toward their vulnerable populations.

Coun. Sandy Santori respectfully asked how council should respond to residents and businesses who deal daily with homeless people and those with mental illness, who vandalize their property, openly use drugs, and discard needles in public spaces?

“I understand that this is tremendously challenging and you have a lot of voices you have to balance and hear,” said Streukens. “There is a great need for anti-stigma work in Trail. There is a lot of language around choice and lifestyle, and my rights versus your rights.

“We need to draw this conversation back into the public health landscape, we can’t enforce our way out of it, and until we do some very strong community education, I’ll anticipate you will continue hearing things like this.”

The city has since sent letters urging the Government of Canada to declare the overdose crisis a national public health emergency so that it is taken seriously and funded appropriately.

It implored the provincial and federal governments “to immediately seek input from people most affected by this crisis and meet with provinces and territories to develop a comprehensive, pan-Canadian overdose action plan.”

That plan, would include “comprehensive supports and full consideration of reforms that other countries have used to significantly reduce drug-related fatalities and stigma, such as legal regulation of illicit drugs to ensure safe supply of pharmaceutical alternatives to toxic street drugs, and decriminalization for personal use.”

addictionsCity of Trailmental health

Just Posted

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

South Slocan’s Ti Loran is among the recipients of this year’s Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
Neil Muth Memorial Scholarships awarded to 4 students

Students in Creston, South Slocan and Revelstoke are sharing the honour

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

A wildfire near Cottonwood Lake was put out by Nelson firefighters Sunday night. Photo: Submitted
Wildfire extinguished near Cottonwood Lake

Lightning-caused fire was near one of Nelson’s water sources

West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Central Mountain Air leaving Castlegar airport in July

The airline says market can’t handle two airlines

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read