BC Government Officials Answer Public Safety Questions in Nelson


(Image: left to right, Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson, Attorney General Niki Sharma and Deputy Premier, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth)

Yesterday, May 25th, local media met with Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson, Deputy Premier, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth and BC Attorney General Niki Sharma to discuss residential safety concerns in Nelson.

This as residents and businesses have pushed back over an impending safe inhalation site on Vernon Street, the City's third overdose prevention site in a one-kilometer radius.

Bounce Radio asked about a lack of public consultation:

“Certainly I brought up concerns with the Minister and with IHA (Interior Health Authority) so I think IHA is now well aware of the concerns, do they need to do more public consultation? Likely, we need to find a solution for our community to make sure that we’re keeping everyone safe.” says MLA Anderson

Anderson adds that the goal is for every community to have somewhere that people can go:

“We definitely want to see a regional approach, we know that we need services in all communities. So I’ve been working with Minister Conroy also and we agree that we need to have services in all of our communities, in the Kootenays but (also) across British Columbia in order to keep people safe.”

“The mental health and addiction services have been underfunded for decades….” Says Attorney General Niki Sharma “….We are going in and building up supports in every community and the goal is for every community and we are making the financial commitment to do that. We also have been at the forefront of innovations when it comes to housing, because we know that housing is a really important aspect of helping people.”

When asked about the impending facility’s 85-metre proximity to places were children might be, Bounce News heard that government doesn't have control over the location. BC’s Deputy Premier says concerns are however being heard loud and clear:

“They’re (community) not feeling that they’re being told what’s going on and so that fuels community anxiety and that doesn’t surprise me. Whenever you make a change in policy like this or a change in direction, it’s important that people are brought along, it’s important that people are given information and it’s important in the case of the (Interior) Health Authority that they’re listening to the concerns of the community.”

Farnworth adds that the number of overdose deaths in our province requires change and the decriminalization of drugs was no overnight decision:

“We need to really try and change the dial and change the approach that we have done in the past and so whenever you have that you know there will be a reaction, there may well be issues that arise. What we want to ensure is that as things happen we are able to deal with them and that the approach that’s taken is one that listens to what people are experiencing, what communities are saying and I think that’s the concern that Brittny has been communicating to both the Attorney General and myself.”

“We have many parents, too many parents across this province that are coming to us and saying my kid did not have to die from an opioid overdose or crisis….” Says BC’s Attorney General “….They didn’t come for help, they didn’t do the things that they needed to do because of the stigma related to their drug use right? Is any parent wishing that their kid would be criminalized for that behavior as an additions issue? Or is it better instead to support that person through it and circle the criminalization of everything around it?”

Roughly 60 people turned up for the gathering downtown Nelson on May 25th, but media instead met with government officials elsewhere.