FORT ST. JOHN -- The location of an overdose prevention site in Fort St. John  is drawing criticism from surrounding businesses.

The OPS site is located at the Fort St. John Health Services Centre on 100th Ave, the same location where the Fort St. John warming centre was previously operated through a community partnership with Urban Matters.

The harm reduction site allows for an indoor substance use space, outdoor inhalation area, referrals to treatment options, and access to treatment services.

There is also an intensive case management team on-site with registered nurses, mental health and substance use clinicians, and life skills workers.

The location was established in an effort to combat overdose deaths after the region saw the highest rate of drug toxicity deaths in the province last year.

Nieghbouring businesses, however, are raising their concerns.

The business adjacent to the building has been for sale since June.

The owner of Deltek, Harold Goodwin, says discarded needles have been found outside the back entrance of his building.

He also claims a property assessment saw the value of his storefront decrease by $170,000 because of the OPS.

Parents in District 60 also voiced their concern, citing the proximity to schools and daycares in the area.

Across the street, an associate of City Furniture and Appliances says the site is of concern, but has not experienced any problems with littering of drug paraphernalia or loitering.

The Fort St. John and Area Chamber of Commerce partnered with Northern Health to lead the Good Neighbour's Table, a monthly meeting that allows businesses affected by the overdose prevention site to share their concerns.

In 2022, the city said in a letter that it's the provincial government who holds jurisdiction for the planning of prevention services, and that Northern Health did not require the approval of the city to open the site.

The prevention site is open from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, the province offers an alcohol and drug referral service for prevention and treatment services by calling 1-800-663-1441.