Ucluelet Coun. Sally Mole recently attended a Coastal Family Resource Coalition meeting and was shocked to discover the impacts drugs and alcohol are having on the West Coast.
“With alcohol and marijuana (use) up, ambulance visits for possible suicide attempts being up—we’ve had one fentanyl death, that blew me away—we really need to come together as a West Coast region to identify what we’re doing wrong and what we can do right,” she urged during last week’s council meeting.
Fentanyl is unfortunately an oft-used narcotic that, according to the Canadian Centre of Substance Abuse, caused at least 655 deaths in Canada between 2009-2014.
Mole told the Westerly after the meeting that the Coastal Family Resource Coalition meets monthly and is comprised of service providers across the West Coast.
“It’s a really dynamic very intense group looking at children, youth, families and how we should better serve them,” she said.
“At this particular meeting, we had a presenter from Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) whose mandate is looking at harm reduction…He mentioned, in looking briefly at the stats out here on the Coast, that there was an increase in drug and alcohol related accidents or impacts that they’re seeing on the VIHA front and what kinds of things we can do to help prevent that.”
She said a focus group is coming together to investigate what can be done locally to nip the rising problem in the bud.
“It’s baby steps right now, we’re just in the beginning of forming a group and organizing a meeting to get together and get an action plan together,” she said.
She suggested the district has an important role to play in community health.
“I absolutely, positively, believe 100 per cent yes…there’s definitely a role for local government,” she said. “If we don’t have a healthy community, we don’t have a community.”
She said the West Coast must address the concern together.
“If people are dying from overdoses absolutely…There’s things that we can do better, prevention-wise and also treatment-wise, and it takes the whole community. It’s not just up to VIHA, we’ve got to stop putting ourselves in these silos and work together,” she said.
“We have this issue that I don’t see firsthand and it’s great that it’s been brought to our attention so that we can deal with it.”