OPS in Rutland.

Overdose prevention site pops up in Rutland

Community members host a popup overdose prevention site in Rutland on Monday.

No one actually used the pop-up overdose prevention site that appeared near Roxy Park, Monday afternoon in Kelowna.

While some residents issued their displeasure to other media at the sight of a small tent and community members gathered in the cold — organizers of the pop-up site say the event went over very well.

Okanagan College Professor and former NDP candidate Norah Bowman along with former Kelowna city Councillor Michelle Rule were the two who hosted the Overdose Prevention pop-up site in Rutland.

Bowman says after astonishing numbers from Interior Health regarding overdose deaths in Kelowna she decided something had to be done, sooner rather than later.

“By the end of November, 40 overdose deaths and many more near misses had occurred in Kelowna. While we recognize that an OPS does not prevent the circulation of fentantyl, carfentanil, or potentially lethal heroin, we see setting up a Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) as one measure we can take to save lives. We anticipate other community measures in response to the overdose crisis in BC and in Kelowna,” said Bowman.

Bowman and Rule are trained in Naloxone injection and are hoping more community members will also become familiar with the administration.

“It would be better to have something like this indoors, and right now Interior Health (IH) is actively looking for an indoor location,” said Bowman.

No active drug users attended the pop-up site; however if they did Bowman had a private tent set aside for them. She says they do not supervise but would check in on users to make sure they are OK and if necessary use a Naloxone kit in the case of an overdose.

“Many people stopped by and just asked what we were doing, where they could get Naloxone kits, and asked about fentanyl,” she explained.

The police did attend the popup site; however Bowman says there was no issue and the police seemed OK with everything that was taking place, explaining that it was not illegal.

While Bowman and Rule would like to continue this pop-up style Overdose Prevention site they are unable to carry on just the two of them. They are looking for community members to take over, become trained in using Naloxone and harm reduction.

“I would lend them my tent to set up if they wanted it,” said Bowman. “The training is really easy and you can go to the Living Positive Resource Centre to find out more.”

She hopes that once IH finds an indoor location for an overdose prevention site in Rutland there will be no need for a pop-up site, which may make concerned residents more comfortable.

There is downtown overdose prevention site at the former Kelowna Health Centre (1340 Ellis St.) which is open Tuesday to Saturday noon to 7 p.m.

To find out more about harm reduction, or to train to administer Naloxone please contact Living Positive on 168 Asher Road, 778-753-5830.

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