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Chamber disappointed with downtown overdose prevention site

VERNON – The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is disappointed with the Interior Health Authority’s decision to locate an overdose prevention site in downtown Vernon.
In a letter to Health Minister Adrian Dix and IHA president Susan Brown, the Chamber indicates that the May 11, 2020 announcement for an OPS at 3306A 32nd Avenue goes against the wishes of the Chamber, the City of Vernon and other organizations that such a facility be located at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
On May 17, 2019, representatives from the Chamber met with Interior Health to discuss an OPS and the Chamber was clear that it did not want such a facility in downtown Vernon and that has not changed one year later. In fact, our members are still extremely concerned that an OPS in the downtown core will compound existing safety concerns and decrease property values,” said Krystin Kempton, Greater Vernon Chamber president.
“Business owners are compassionate and want individuals to access the help they need, but the location of an OPS in the downtown core could compound already existing challenges such as drug use, loitering and the perception that downtown is not safe. The appropriate location for an OPS is Vernon Jubilee Hospital, which provides a range of services, particularly during emergency situations.”
In its letter to Minister Dix and Ms. Brown, the Chamber urges Interior Health to have immediate discussions with the City of Vernon and business organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce.
“Among the issues to be addressed is how loitering will be handled to minimize the impact on businesses and their customers. This is of concern as the current Covid-19 pandemic may restrict how many people can be inside the facility at any one time,” said Kempton.
“There also needs to be a discussion about the hours of operation (proposed 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and whether this is best for the facility’s clientele and the adjacent businesses. The determination of a suitable location for the OPS is critical to the success of the program, as is the acceptance of the OPS by businesses and the community at large. Interior Health clearly needs to come back to the table.”
Richard Rolke, Communications Coordinator    
Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce   
E:  P: 250.545.0771