The Oceanside Community Action Team (OCAT) wants to put faces to the figures of overdose deaths in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
Peter Drummond, a member of OCAT, went before Parksville city council at the last meeting on Monday, March 15, to present the organization’s proposal of a kiosk that would bring awareness to the climbing number of deaths.
OCAT, a provincially-funded organization aimed at harm reduction in drug addictions, believes the number of deaths due to overdose in region are much worse than what the B.C Coroners report stated for 2020. Drummond said the losses were reported at 16, but believes the OCAT’s number of approximately 40 is more accurate.
“I only ask for your understanding that we have to do our best to stem the tide of the scourge of drug addiction,” he said.
“These are not numbers, they are people — they are young people for the most part.”
Drummond’s request to council was to construct and install a kiosk that would display photos of those who have died from overdosing and contact information, for those who would benefit, or for those that are suffering from mental illness and need persuasion not to enter into drug abuse.
“The blocks are meant to symbolize the people of the community. The spaces would represent the missing members who have died of overdose,” said Drummond.
The kiosk would have four sides and be made of 130 cedar blocks, which measure 16 inches by eight inches. It would stand at nine feet high and eight feet wide.
The cost to construct would be $3,700 and at no cost to the city, as Drummond plans to build and install it himself with the help of volunteers.
His original request to council was to install the kiosk in the downtown core of Parksville, across from the Dairy Queen along the Island Highway.
However Coun. Adam Fras suggested placing the kiosk instead at the beginning of a walking trail along Jensen Avenue, next to Orca Place on Corfield Street.
Coun. Marilyn Wilson also suggested to make the location, wherever it may be, a temporary one and to have the kiosk be more mobile so that it could travel into other communities in the region, creating better visibility and therefore being more effective in raising awareness.
At the end of the discussion, council ultimately referred the project to city staff as to gather more information on the location and if there may be any possible unforeseen costs to the city.