Five people died from toxic drugs in Kelowna and West Kelowna Saturday, but Interior Health has yet to issue any kind of drug alert.
The Kelowna and West Kelowna RCMP issued a press release Saturday afternoon, alerting the public that they had responded to three recent calls for drug overdoses that day, resulting in five deaths.
While Interior Health regularly alerts the public about instances of drug poisonings, no such alert has been issued around these recent deaths.
It remains unknown what substances the drug deaths involved, and no further information has been released.
“We are currently gathering more information about the suspected overdoses,” an Interior Health spokesperson said in an email Sunday.
“At this time, we don’t have enough information about a common substance to link the suspected overdoses.”
Police said the first call came in just after 8 a.m. Saturday. Police responded to the 800 block of Saucier Avenue in Kelowna, where they found a 32-year-old man who had died in his bed.
Two more calls to police that same day resulted in a further four local deaths.
“The drug supply is increasingly toxic and unpredictable throughout the Interior and we continue to see high level of overdoses,” the IH spokesperson said in the email.
“Whether there is an active alert issued or not, we encourage people who use drugs to have them checked and take steps to prevent overdose. This includes using with others around or at an overdose prevention site, carrying naloxone, using the LifeGuard App, starting with a small amount and going slow, and staggering use when you are with someone so you can assist each other.”
In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said more needs to be done for the city's most vulnerable.
“The events of the past 24 hours have reinforced the vital importance of continuing to advocate for the right supports for vulnerable people living on our streets and for people with addictions," Basran said.
“With five deadly overdoses within nine hours yesterday and last night’s horrific incident between a truck driver and a person using the temporary overnight shelter, the need for more shelter space, complex care facilities is obvious.
“More of these types of support are coming to Kelowna, however it is clear we need to connect members of our community with the help they need when they need it."
In the first seven months of 2022, 51 people were killed by toxic drugs in Kelowna.