Princeton needs to own drug deaths

These are our people. They are dying on our watch.

Dear Princeton

It is time to get your head out of the clouds, or out of the sand, or to dislodge it from wherever it presently resides.

The provincial drug crisis has hit home with the impact of a meteor from a distant galaxy, blackening the landscape, creating a deep hole.

So this is our problem.

Two people died in Princeton in March, from Fentanyl overdoses. According to RCMP one victim thought she had purchased heroin. The toxicology from another showed a mix of Fentanyl and methamphetamine.

A young woman died last month, one morning alone in her apartment. That was on Vermilion Avenue, just steps away from a busy dental office and a bustling department store, and a block from town hall. Police discovered drug paraphernalia on the scene, and are awaiting a final verdict from the coroner.

This past weekend there was another fatality, which police suspect was a Fentanyl overdose.

Reasonably that’s four dead, out of a population of 2,700, in less than 12 weeks.

Everybody should be a tad concerned.

Had these people died in avalanches, had they been mowed down by drunk drivers, or perhaps fallen ill from tainted food or water, the population would be deafened from the outcry.

Social media would lose what little is left of its mind. In the grocery store, in the coffee shops, on the street and in meetings the carnage would be the only topic of the day.

What should we do?

How can we help?

This is terrible!

Well, it is terrible. We should do something. We can help. But so far the only thing deafening is the silence.

It starts with ownership.

Dr. Peter Entwistle, the only fulltime addiction specialist in our health region and an independent candidate in the recent provincial election, shared his insight with The Spotlight in April.

He said the biggest barrier to solutions is that no one is willing to own the problem.

Medical teams do the best they can. Princeton General Hospital distributes Naloxone kits to anyone who asks. Interior Health recently set up safe injection sites in major centers. RCMP weed out or chase away drug dealers, but the offenders are much like streetcars. Miss one, and there is another along in ten minutes.

This is the single biggest crisis the community has faced in recent memory and it has yet to be discussed – okay The Spotlight might have missed it, but probably not – in an open session of town council.

Taxpayers. Are. Dying. Meanwhile, there is scant leadership in this area while community advocates lobby for ATVs on the trail and the proprietorship of an old caboose.

The first step in addressing the disaster is a town forum – hold it at the Riverside – that brings together health care professionals, law enforcement, municipal government, social services, addicts and families of addicts and anyone who gives a damn…which should be about 2,700 people.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have to stage such a meeting at the arena, to accommodate everyone who cares?

People can start talking about it. People can take ownership. People can find ways to help.

Doesn’t Princeton always pride itself on taking care of its own?

The Spotlight would be so grateful to partner in planning and promoting such a gathering.

These are our people. This is happening on our watch.

Please think about it that way.

Sincerely,

Your Community Newspaper

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