On International Overdose Awareness Day on Thursday Aug. 31, Penticton will unveil its own memorial with a bench on Marina Way.
Penticton has seen 13 deaths due to overdoses so far in 2023, according to information released by the BC Coroners Service. In all of 2022, the city saw 30 people die from an overdose, and 26 in all of 2021.
The memorial bench is a project of Gord Portman, who experienced homelessness and addiction himself for several years. He wanted the bench as a way of recognizing those lost to the opioid epidemic and their families.
Portman has celebrated over three years of being substance-free following his rescue of two people from a house fire in 2020. Not everyone he has known has been able to stay sober, and he told the Western that he knows 117 people who have died from an overdose including his bestfriend.
The bench will be unveiled in a ceremony with the mayor, city councillors and family members of those lost to overdoses at 9 a.m. in the park across from the Prague Cafe on Marina Way.
After the unveiling, people are invited to participate in International Overdose Awareness Day activities with a gathering of local community resources at Gyro Park from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
The Town of Oliver is holding their own event to recognize the day and those who have died.
Oliver’s event runs from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. with music, guest speakers, a candlelight vigil and a peer-led family support meeting for people who have lost loved ones. The event will be held in the east field at 6359 Park Drive.
To report a typo, email: email@example.com.
Don’t miss a single story and get them delivered directly to your inbox. Sign up today for the Penticton Western News Newsletter.