City officials want more communication from Interior Health

The mobile overdose prevention unit in downtown Kamloops.

KAMLOOPS - A lack of presence and communication from Interior Health is causing frustration within a community task force in Kamloops.

Frustration around the availability of information from supervised consumption sites in Kamloops was brought to the table earlier this week when North Shore Business Improvement Association executive director Steven Puhallo addressed a city committee.

"We were told I don’t know how many times in our sub-committees and in this meeting... that this would be a steady flow of communication, and now they’ve turtled up and that’s very concerning," Puhallo said of Interior Health. "This whole table is built around communication. We’re really disappointed in (Interior Health) for not being as communicable as they said they were going to be, that’s very disappointing."

The discussion came after Kamloops RCMP Supt. Brad Mueller told the city's coordinated enforcement task force on Monday, Oct. 30, about the number of calls police have been responding to in the areas of the downtown supervised consumption site and the North Shore site.

Mueller said during the third quarter of this year, more than 2,000 calls for RCMP service were placed in the areas around the sites. Earlier this year, iNFOnews.ca reported on atoms the RCMP had set up in the immediate vicinities of the sites, usually about a five-block radius.

"Prior to the implementation of this, we didn’t really have a baseline because we weren’t tracking that specific atom," Mueller told the committee. "I can say, I guess quantitatively, that there has been increases in calls for service in those areas, especially around social disorder type of calls. Whether that’s related to supervised consumption, I can’t make that correlation."

But without Interior Health providing numbers for how many people are going in and out of the supervised consumption sites, Mueller said it's hard to get a "clear picture" of what's going on around the sites, and if the social disorder calls coming in are directly related to them.

Community safety director for the city, David Duckworth, said preliminary numbers from Interior Health showed about 1,000 people going through the consumption site in the first two-and-a-half months they were opened. 

Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian and ASK Wellness executive director Bob Hughes both said they'd encourage Interior Health to sit on the coordinated enforcement task force committee.

"I think it’d be invaluable for them to participate in this committee," Hughes said. "These questions around the overdose crisis, as it relates to the street issues and community safety... they’re a vital partner."

Hughes also pointed out there have been no fatal overdoses in either the overdose prevention sites or supervised consumption sites in the province since they were implemented. Kamloops councillor Pat Wallace suggested looking at the numbers of how many non fatal overdoses there are around each of the sites to get a better understanding of the important role they play amid the opioid crisis.

"I think it’s important for the public to understand that everybody that goes there doesn’t die," Wallace said. "They have good results."

Christian told the committee he hopes to speak with Interior Health about having a medical health officer sit in on the meetings.


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