The B.C. Coroners Service has released new data about the ongoing overdose crisis in the province, which found that 17 people overdosed in Penticton between January and October 2019, an increase over the 16 people who lost their lives last year. (Stock photo)

City of Penticton records all-time high for fatal overdoses

Seventeen people have fatally overdosed so far this year

The year isn’t over yet, but the number of overdose deaths in Penticton has hit an all-time high.

According to statistics recently released by BC Coroners Service, 17 people fatally overdosed in Penticton between January and October of this year.

The city has seen an increase in deaths consistently since 2015, when three people overdosed, followed by seven in 2016, 14 in 2017 and 16 last year.

Vancouver tops the list with 210 overdose deaths so far this year, which is a decrease from the 395 people who lost their lives in 2018.

Despite having a larger population than Penticton, Vernon, Maple Ridge and Langley all reported fewer deaths this year.

This means Penticton had the 12th highest fatal overdose rate in the province, with Kelowna ranking fifth highest with 27 overdose deaths from January to October 2019.

The data does not break down the stats for the Village of Keremeos by year, but it does show eight people fatally overdosed there between 2017 and 2019.

READ MORE: City of Penticton considers new bylaw to restrict needle distribution

In general, the data shows that the most common age group afflicted by this epidemic are those between the ages of 30 and 39, and the majority of these victims are male.

The report states fentanyl was involved in 85 per cent of the overdose deaths reported this year, a small decrease, about two per cent less than last year. The amount of carfentanil circulating in illicit drugs seems to be on the rise, with the drug being detected in 129 suspected deaths in 2019 compared to 35 deaths in 2018.

It also notes no deaths were reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites, but it does not include circumstances where injury may have occurred at a site and death later occurred in a hospital.

Penticton residents and city council have been pressuring Interior Health to find a solution for the improper disposal of used needles in the city’s public spaces.

City staff previously told the Western News that they have been meeting weekly with the health authority to find a solution and that the city is contemplating drafting a bylaw that would regulate how non-profits and other organizations distribute needles.

This bylaw would not be able to limit the number of needles being distributed in the city.

In 2018, it was reported that 167,000 needles were ordered for Penticton through the B.C. Centre for Disease Control but it does not state how many were distributed.

Recently, the city’s bylaw services initiated a clean-up of Esplanade Park and relocated multiple individuals who were residing within it.

This clean-up effort found 1,200 improperly disposed of needles among other refuse, which took a crew of 12 members seven hours to gather.

The garbage will be burnt by the Penticton Fire Department after the winter.

Western News has reached out to Interior Health for comments about Penticton’s overdose deaths this year and the ongoing opioid epidemic.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
JordynThomson 
Send Jordyn Thomson an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: 2020 Peach Classic Triathlon cancelled

Athletes’ inability to properly train main reason for cancelling the long-running event

Childcare service in South Okanagan to serve just essential service workers

On April 1, eight OneSky childcare centres will only be available to essential service workers

Thousands affected by Penticton power outages

Two corresponding issues have resulted in approx. 7000 without power

Summerland care facility orders reusable masks

Okanagan Valley quilters ready to produce cloth masks if needed

COLUMN: Plenty of online reading options

Libraries are closed due to COVID-19 but downloads are available through Okanagan Regional Library

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Virtual physio connects patients with Okanagan practitioners

Many local physiotherapists are ready to assist, online

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Don’t take hair into your own hands, urge Okanagan stylists

New Vernon shop expects high demand come May, since opening delayed

Most Read