Communities throughout B.C. are increasing their efforts to address the overdose crisis with more than $900,000 in grants awarded to municipalities for local community wellness, safety and harm-reduction projects.
Twenty-four municipalities and their community partners have received up to $50,000 in funding for initiatives that build on community wellness, safety and harm-reduction efforts related to the overdose crisis and saving lives. The opportunity was first announced by Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in September 2019.
“Everyone deserves to live in a healthy and safe community,” Darcy said. “We know that when people come together to identify challenges and solutions, we can create vibrant communities that put residents’ wellness first.”
Funded projects include:
- a business engagement and ambassador project in Abbotsford;
- a needle recovery program in Vancouver;
- youth harm reduction and wellness efforts in Port Alberni;
- a drop-in harm reduction and meal program in Houston; and
- an employment program in Penticton and Kelowna.
Additional projects aim to reduce stigma, while engaging and empowering people with lived and living experience of substance use.
The one-time grants are supported by the Community Crisis Innovation Fund through the Ministry of Health and will be administered by the Community Action Initiative.
This funding is part of a comprehensive investment of $746 million since Budget Update 2017 (through to 2023) aimed at harm reduction, prevention, enforcement, treatment and recovery initiatives.
Escalating B.C.’s response to the overdose crisis is a pillar of government’s actions, as outlined in A Pathway to Hope — B.C.’s roadmap for making the system of mental health and addictions care better for people. Implementing A Pathway to Hope is a shared priority with the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Henry Braun, mayor of Abbotsford —
“Abbotsford has spent the past years building on efforts to address the specific needs of vulnerable people at the local level. A community wellness hub was launched through collaboration with various social and health organizations that serve our community, one of the many positive steps towards supporting broad-based community wellness. We are pleased that the Province is continuing to support municipalities and program development at the local level to support health and wellness in our communities.”
Linda Brown, mayor of Merritt —
“It is critically important to build communities that care, where everyone has value and we look out for each other, regardless of personal circumstance. In our focus on infrastructure and economic development, we must not lose sight of people. I would like to thank the Province for its funding, which will allow us to provide supports for those people in our community who struggle with mental health and substance use.”
Sharie Minions, mayor of Port Alberni —
“We are incredibly proud to be one of 24 communities selected for this grant. The City of Port Alberni works closely with the community action team to provide supports and resources dedicated to community-based harm-reduction services. Through grants like this, we are demonstrating how powerful collaboration between provincial and local governments, local service providers, persons with lived experience, and citizens of the Alberni Valley can make a difference in the lives of those seeking a pathway to treatment and recovery.”
For a complete list of funded programs, visit:
Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions’ Pathway to Hope: