British Columbia

Vancouver BIA urges Kelowna companies to welcome injection site

The head of a business improvement association in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside believes Kelowna business should welcome a supervised drug use site to the Okanagan city's downtown core.

Proposed supervised injection site in Kelowna is across from two restaurants

Drug user in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside with drugs likely laced with fentanyl (Chris Corday/CBC)

The head of a business improvement association in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (DTES) wants Kelowna businesses to welcome a supervised drug use site to the Okanagan city's downtown core.

Landon Hoyt, executive director of Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Area said a supervised injection site would likely mean fewer people doing drugs in public, reduced crime, and cleaner streets in the area.

"From our perspective, the injection site itself has not had any sort of negative impact on the business community [in the DTES,]" Hoyt said in an interview with CBC Radio One's Daybreak South.

A space owned by the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society on Leon Avenue in Kelowna has been named as a proposed location for a supervised injection site. (Jaimie Kehler)

"Any sort of street disorder that exists now — people injecting on the sidewalks in front of businesses, creating litter, whatever — they are going to be taken inside to a safe, covered injection site where it is not happening on the street."

The Interior Health Authority is looking at opening a supervised drug use site at the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society on Leon Avenue in downtown Kelowna along with a site in Kamloops, B.C.

Undermines safety, says biz group

The Downtown Kelowna Association (DKA) — a non-profit business improvement association — is opposed to the Leon Avenue location as is the owner of two restaurants on Leon Avenue that are situated across the street from the proposed site.

This area of Leon Avenue may soon be home to Kelowna's first supervised injection site, and some local businesses aren't happy about it. (Google Streetview)

The DKA feels the supervised drug use site will undermine public safety and stall revitalization efforts in the neighbourhood.

Restaurateur Nick Sintichackis would rather see a mobile facility than a permanent site on Leon Avenue as a way to spread the service around the city. 

Businesses should praising the proposal

Hoyt said Vancouver's supervised injection site, Insite, in the city's Downtown Eastside has improved the neighbourhood and not made it more dangerous or less appealing.

"We have lots of restaurants and cafes and things like that as well," Hoyt said.

"If anything Kelowna businesses should be praising a proposal to bring in an injection site."

Thursday was the last day for pubic input — through Interior Health's website — about the proposed sites in Kelowna and Kamloops.

With files from CBC Radio One's Daybreak South

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