After consideration from city staff members, Parksville council will not allow an overdose memorial kiosk be installed on Jensen Avenue.
On Monday, May 17, council voted in favour of turning down a project presented to them by the Oceanside Community Action Team (OCAT) during the March 15 council meeting. The purposed kiosk would have displayed photos of people from the Parksville Qualicum Beach region who have died due to drug overdoses. It was also intended to provided contact information for anyone seeking help with drug abuse and mental health issues.
The city’s director of operations, Belinda Woods, presented to council city staff’s review of the proposed kiosk and the suggested Jensen Avenue greenway location.
Woods advised that both the fire department and police both provided their input. She said there were several considerations with crime prevention and fire safety for that specific location.
The Jensen Avenue greenway has received other requests for installation as well, including a new wayfinding sign, a garbage can, a bench and that it be irrigated and landscaped.
According to Woods’s report, if the kiosks were installed it would cost the city at least $1,000 for area levelling without a cement pad. She said having the kiosk there would also pose problems for future landscaping and irrigation.
In staff’s research, they consulted with Orca Place and were advised that having such a structure so close to their proximity would not be therapeutic for their residents. Orca Place is a supportive housing program run by the Island Crisis Care Society.
“If it’s not good for them, how is it going to be good for anybody else in the community because it does touch on a very sensitive issue that can be very triggering for people?” said Coun. Adam Fras during Monday’s council meeting.
Coun. Al Greir first introduced the motion to reject the kiosk installation on public property, which was unanimously voted in favour by the rest of council.
“I don’t think we should be taking on an expense of this, and I don’t think it’s going to be something well-received by the entire community. I’ve talked to a lot of people and I haven’t talked to anybody that’s in favour of putting this up,” he said.
Fras, Coun. Doug O’Brien, and Mayor Ed Mayne each said that they too received negative feedback from residents on the kiosk and its proposed location.