British Columbia

Overdose prevention site opens in Powell River as drug crisis grows

Vancouver Coastal Health has opened the first overdose prevention side outside of Vancouver. The authority says there were 39 overdose deaths last year for the North Shore-Coast Garibaldi area, which includes Powell River.

It's the 1st site opened by Vancouver Coastal Health outside of Vancouver

A new overdose prevention site in Powell River opened its doors for the first time on Thursday. (Twitter/ Vancouver Coastal Health)

The small city of Powell River has been one of the hardest hit by British Columbia's overdose crisis, prompting Vancouver Coastal Health to open its first overdose prevention site outside of Vancouver in the Sunshine Coast community on Thursday.

Dr. Geoff McKee, a medical health officer with the authority, says the contaminated drug supply has been devastating for the city.

Coastal Health says there were 39 overdose deaths last year for the North Shore-Coast Garibaldi area, which includes Powell River, and there were 76 emergency calls for overdoses during the same period in the city.

Shannon Ollson, with the Powell River Community Action Team, says the site is badly needed because there are overdoses in the laundromat, at the park and in the washrooms of convenience stores.

The new pilot site was supposed to open last month, but an authority spokeswoman says a break-in at the site delayed the launch while they installed fortified locks and a security system.

Coastal Health is providing clinical support and supplies, while the Powell River Community Action Team will manage the site and the City of Powell River is leasing the property for free for one year.

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