Call made for open and transparent consultation around safe inhalation site selection
People are ‘terrified’ of where and when a controlled substance safe inhalation site is selected for Nelson and more transparency is needed leading up to its creation, says a member of the city’s newest neighbourhood group.
Kari Kroker of the Nelson Neighbourhood Network (NNN) said there are no parameters in regards to the creation and location of new overdose prevention sites (OPS) in the city, and people in Nelson are coming together to request some form to the function of the service.
“So we need to lay some of these things out so when it opens people have an expectation here and they know that they will be heard if that expectation isn’t being met,” she said Oct. 24 at a City council committee-of-the-whole meeting at City Hall.
“People are actually terrified … of (OPS), because what can they expect? They can expect a rise in crime, they are going to have to put up cameras.
“So, if we can get some standards going, if we can set some expectations, if we can put up some guard rails to ensure a more safe community, we would love to help with that.”
Community dialogue starts with trust and awareness and knowing the facts, said NNN member Mike Stolte.
“One of the things I found is that people didn’t think they had a voice. Those that did speak out were afraid of being chastised, or shamed in public,” he said.
Kroker said NNN had some requests as the search for a safe inhalation site continues in the city — between the Interior Health Authority and the City of Nelson. She asked for authentic and open consultation around the location of the sites.
We “request a good neighbour policy be created for these sites and that this policy have clear and real consequences, akin to the Liquor Control Licensing Act,” she said.
No decisions were made by City council at the conclusion of the meeting.
The NNN has outlined several short-term goals, set out when the network was formed earlier this year.
- To provide a forum where community residents can share stories and experiences of what is happening to them in their neighbourhoods;
- To build bridges to Nelson Police Department, City of Nelson, MLA, MP and other community leaders and organizations;
- To get a better understanding of Nelson Cares Stepping Stones facility and build a good neighbour relationship;
- Better understanding the impacts of decriminalization in our community and other jurisdictions in order to inform and be proactive;
- Build public awareness around the issues. To create a communication network for Nelson and area residents, businesses and organizations on the issues using media and direct communication; and
- Create respectful dialogue to work towards mitigation of the issues
Source: Nelson Neighbourhood Network
NNN (draft) vision
“We live in a flourishing community where people living downtown and in all neighbourhoods feel safe, respected, connected and vibrant.
“Our community offers a full range of services for all. Our regional neighbours also offer services and are thriving.
“We come from a place of compassion, mutual respect and community-led solutions.”
Source: Nelson Neighbourhood Network
Rating the rates
Homeless rates (housed: unhoused) – point-in-time (pit) counts in B.C.
- Surrey – 489:1 (Globe and Mail, Oct. 5, 2023)
- Greater Victoria – 481:1 (Greater Victoria pit homeless count, March 8/23)
- Vancouver – 137:1 (Globe and Mail, Oct. 5, 2023)
- Nelson – 121:1 (400 per cent higher than Surrey and Victoria; 13 per cent higher than Vancouver) based on 88 people counted Feb. 1/2022.
Surrey has gone up 65 per cent since 2020, and Vancouver up 33 per cent since 2020.
Some jurisdictions in the Lower Mainland saw increases up to 95 per cent in that period.
“There are a number of people that have said our numbers have swelled in the past year,” said Stolte.