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Mixed reaction from Vernon businesses on overdose prevention site

Nearly a year after an overdose prevention site moved into downtown Vernon, the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce reached out to neighbouring businesses to gauge its impact.

It said it heard mixed reactions from local businesses.

“It’s interesting to note that some of our members had not been negatively affected by the facility,” said Dan Proulx, Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce’s general manager.

Read more:
Downtown Vernon Association expresses ‘guarded optimism’ about overdose prevention site

“Other members, though, indicated that there is an ongoing challenge with street-related issues, although they can’t all be directly connected to the overdose prevention site,” he said.

The chamber of commerce said one of its members reported contending with crack pipes, needles and human feces on its property and customers’ vehicles being vandalized.

“We are constantly dealing with the drug and street-entrenched people, which is nothing new for us,” another business reportedly told the chamber of commerce.

Read more:
Vernon is getting an overdose prevention site — Should city council get to OK the location?

The organization said a building manager reported difficulty in leasing a unit because the overdose prevention site “brings a very negative feel to the neighbourhood and prospective tenants just don’t want to have to deal with that.”

According to the chamber’s news release, there are about 30 to 40 visits a month to the overdose prevention site for supervised consumption and about 250 visits a month for harm reduction supplies.

“Many concerns of businesses have not materialized from the overdose prevention site likely because one person a day frequenting the facility for supervised consumption isn’t going to cause much of a stir,” Proulx said.

He added that the chamber of commerce still believes the hospital would be a better location for such a site.

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Downtown location for Vernon overdose prevention site controversial

“We believe the 32nd Avenue location is not ideal for an overdose prevention site because very few people are walking through the door,” he said.

“Street-entrenched issues are impacting businesses, although not the level foreseen,” he said, adding that the chamber of commerce would welcome a meeting with Interior Health.

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