More than a year after it was pitched to officials in Penticton, a memorial bench for victims of overdose will be unveiled on Aug. 31, during International Overdose Awareness Day.
The bench has been driven by Gord Portman as a way of recognizing those who have lost their lives to the opioid epidemic that continues to ravage the province.
Portman experienced homelessness and addiction himself for several years, and has celebrated three years of being substance-free following his rescue of two people from a house fire in 2020.
While Portman has been able to stay sober, not everyone he knows has, and he told the Western News that there are 117 people he knows who are victims of the overdose crisis.
“It’s just getting worse and worse,” Portman previously told the Western.
When he came before city council in June 2022, Portman had asked for the space for the bench at Marina Way Park, between the Penticton Art Gallery and the Marina.
The funds would come from the community, and the public responded by raising around $20,000.
The City of Penticton not only agreed to the location of the memorial but through city council has contributed $3,000 towards the concrete pad for the bench.
Now the bench is finally set to be unveiled, with a ceremony including city councillors and family members of those lost to overdoses.
The unveiling will begin at 9 a.m. at the park on Aug. 31, across from the Prague Cafe.
After the unveiling, the public is invited to Gyro Park from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. for a gathering of local community resources and an afternoon of collaboration and education.
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