As many as 16 people have lost their lives this year to drug overdose in the health region that also includes Squamish.
The data released by VCH is from January 1 to October 31 for Coastal Rural region, which includes Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton, Powell River, Sunshine Coast, Bella Coola, and the Central Coast.
This data is also subject to change as some Coroner’s Services investigations are ongoing, said Rachel Galligan, the media relations officer for Vancouver Coastal Health.
In November, a senior VCH official, Chris Vanveen, gave a presentation to the Squamish council about the drug overdose deaths in the region.
Last year, the Coastal Rural region, recorded 11 overdose deaths. In 2018, the number was higher at 22, while as many as 20 people lost their lives to drug overdose deaths in 2017.
Galligan said Vancouver Coastal Health and its community partners continue to scale up the overdose response in the Sea to Sky region.
“In addition to funding the new Overdose Prevention Site, we now have overdose outreach workers who are active in Squamish and Whistler; they connect at risk clients to treatments and supports,” she said.
The local VCH opioid agonist therapy clinic is also currently operating three days a week in Squamish, and once a week alternating between Whistler and Pemberton.
She said local community partners have also been very active in the overdose response as well, working together through the local Community Action Team (CAT) to come up with overdose response initiatives tailored to fit the needs of the community.
A great example of a CAT project is the anti-stigma advertising campaign that it created for local buses and transit shelters, she added.