UPDATED Nelson Council Discusses New Safe Inhalation Site

Nelson City Hall building

Interior Health tells Bounce Radio that the start-date for this service has been put on pause.

The Bounce Radio Newsroom will have more to follow.

A new safe inhalation site opens (read above update) this evening in Nelson and both the community and city officials have a number of questions.

Mayor Janice Morrison told Councillors on Tuesday that she’d caught word earlier that same morning from Interior Health that the site would launch at the old Clubhouse location at 818 Vernon Street. Letters were reportedly going to residents and businesses in the nearby vicinity, giving just 48-hours notice.

IHA is partnering with both ANKORS and the Rural Empowered Drug Users Network to operate these overdose prevention services on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Morrison says when she inquired about the public consultation process she was told that engagement was going through the MLA's office, in contrast to the Mayor’s meeting with the MLA:

“We did not discuss when the inhalation site would be starting, what the procedures would be around it, we had no further information because we were still waiting for a lot of information but that was not part of our discussion. Our discussion at that time was about issues surrounding the clubhouse and the venue there….”

“….We don’t have the authority as a municipal entity to overrule or put into conflict with any presiding provincial, orders, edicts, bylaws or policies and it’s actually in the community charter.”

City Manager Kevin Cormack says this feels rushed, adding staff are working towards improving the site they’ve chosen, as well as pushing for a location outside of residential:

“We have had some information back from them on what they intended to do there which doesn’t really comply with what our requirements are so staff are trying to at least work through those parts of it with them, so we’re a bit disappointed that they’ve gone ahead without meeting the requirements of our zoning. So we’ll continue to work through that.”

This will mean three overdose prevention sites for Nelson within a one-kilometre radius while neighbour communities like Trail, Castlegar and Grand Forks have zero.