Advocates from Moms Stop the Harm and Rural Empowered Drug Users Network met outside the Cenotaph in Trail on April 14 to raise awareness of the overdose and opioid crisis. Photo: Jim Bailey

Advocates from Moms Stop the Harm and Rural Empowered Drug Users Network met outside the Cenotaph in Trail on April 14 to raise awareness of the overdose and opioid crisis. Photo: Jim Bailey

Trail city council hears from opioid crisis delegation

Crash course shared in how and why addiction is triggered

Trail city council joined Rossland and other communities across the country in petitioning the federal government to declare the overdose crisis a national emergency.

A delegation that included Moms Stop the Harm representative Tammy McLean, Sheila Adcock from Career Development Services (CDS), Amber Streukens from AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society (ANKORS), and Lisa Kavaloff from Rural Empowered Drug Users Network (REDUN) met with council over Zoom on May 10 to provide a powerful presentation on how the overdose crisis has affected every community.

The delegation asked the city to continue to work on a plan to create an overdose prevention site, address the homeless population in Trail, and listen to people who have experienced homelessness and addiction.

Since 2016, a tainted drug supply has seen the number in overdose deaths increase rapidly with the majority of opioid-toxicity deaths caused by fentanyl present in cocaine, ecstasy, and crystal meth.

In 2020 there were over 1,716 suspected overdoses, a 74 per cent increase from 2019, when 984 people died. In the Kootenay Boundary there were 20 deaths last year, however, in the first three months of 2021, there have already been eight opioid-toxicity deaths.

“COVID has definitely had an impact in that the drug supply is becoming increasingly toxic, and people are trying to isolate and not get COVID, and so we’re finding a lot more people are dying of opioid deaths,” said McLean.

The delegation offered a crash course to council in how and why addiction is triggered, and Kavaloff shared her own devastating experience with child welfare, substance abuse, homelessness and addiction.

For Kavaloff, a safe supply of drugs is required for users, along with low barrier housing providing harm reduction services.

Streukens presented an overview of the benefits of an overdose prevention site (OPS), which gives people a safe space to use drugs under the care of trained professionals who ensure the drugs are tested before use.

It also offers services such as counselling, substance use treatment referrals, and some health services. The underlying statistic is that there have been no deaths reported at OPS.

“In addition to preventing fatal overdose and connecting people who use drugs with supports and services,” said Streukens. “OPS can benefit the greater community in many ways, some of the clear advantages include reduced public drug use and improperly disposed supplies.

“But the more subtle advantages come from that wrap-around care that can be provided at OPS, it’s a safe non-judgemental space for people who use drugs, and therefore acts as a unique point of care and support and can be really stabilizing for folks who use the space and also the community at large.”

For Adcock, the service the La Nina shelter and CDS provides has been vital, but their resources are stretched. She hopes to keep the community informed and is intent on de-stigmatizing the perception communities hold toward their vulnerable populations.

Coun. Sandy Santori respectfully asked how council should respond to residents and businesses who deal daily with homeless people and those with mental illness, who vandalize their property, openly use drugs, and discard needles in public spaces?

“I understand that this is tremendously challenging and you have a lot of voices you have to balance and hear,” said Streukens. “There is a great need for anti-stigma work in Trail. There is a lot of language around choice and lifestyle, and my rights versus your rights.

“We need to draw this conversation back into the public health landscape, we can’t enforce our way out of it, and until we do some very strong community education, I’ll anticipate you will continue hearing things like this.”

The city has since sent letters urging the Government of Canada to declare the overdose crisis a national public health emergency so that it is taken seriously and funded appropriately.

It implored the provincial and federal governments “to immediately seek input from people most affected by this crisis and meet with provinces and territories to develop a comprehensive, pan-Canadian overdose action plan.”

That plan, would include “comprehensive supports and full consideration of reforms that other countries have used to significantly reduce drug-related fatalities and stigma, such as legal regulation of illicit drugs to ensure safe supply of pharmaceutical alternatives to toxic street drugs, and decriminalization for personal use.”

addictionsCity of Trailmental health

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Trees blown over by a windstorm in forest owned by Anderson Creek Timber. Photo: Anderson Creek Timber
Timber company logging near Nelson raises local concerns

Anderson Creek Timber owns 600 hectares of forest adjacent to the city

Keith Smyth, Kootenay Savings director at-large joins children from the Kids’ Care Centre at St. Michael’s Catholic School. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay Savings continues credit union’s tradition of giving

Funding totalling $48,250, is going to a wide array of Kootenay initiatives

From left: Karl Luedtke (West Arm Outdoors Club), Dale Williams (BCWF), Molly Teather (FLNORD), Gord Grunerud (West Arm Outdoors Club), Eugene Volokhov (Grand Prize Winner), Casey McKinnon and Lex Jones (Jones Boys Boats). Photo: Tammy White, Whitelight Photography
Balfour man lands big prize from angler incentive program

Eugene Volokhov of Balfour is now the proud owner of a sleek 18-foot Kingfisher boat

“I want to see the difference in the world, embrace it, celebrate it … ” Photo: David Cantelli/Unsplash
A new way to say ‘Hello’

“Inclusion, you see, is NOT about making us all the same.”

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read