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Two people found dead in Pembroke, Ont. of suspected drug overdoses

Two people have been found dead in Pembroke in the last week of suspected drug overdoses.

On Saturday, March 2, a 31-year-old man from Pembroke was found deceased behind Pembroke City Hall. The second person was found dead March 6, near downtown Pembroke in the area of Church Street and Isabella Street.

At least one of the people found was known to be among the local homeless population.

The deaths have caused the OPP and Renfrew County Health Unit to issue notices regarding another tainted batch of street drugs that has been circulating the valley.

“It continues to be fentanyl. That, and other opioids that are a part of the dangerous drug supply,” said Dr. Jason Morgenstern, Renfrew County’s Medical Officer of Health.

“Increasingly across the province, it has been noted that there are other substances mixed in, for example, psilocybin or benzodiazepines.”

Dr. Morgenstern says that since the beginning of 2023, the health unit has issued five overdose alerts, including this latest notice.

He adds that 38 people died in the county last year from suspected drug overdoses.

“Anyone choosing to use opioids, there are potential lethal results in doing so,” said Mike Mahon with the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP.

“We’re doing everything we can. Unfortunately, there are people that that are still passing away from this.”

The deaths and continued drug use in the community are causing concern and frustration for both residents and business owners.

“It’s concerning to the fact that there’s so many homeless people in Pembroke and the drug problem is out of control, and nobody seems to be able to get a handle on it,” said Isabella Street resident Patricia Woodtke.

“Every second week there’s a drug bust, but it doesn’t make it any better. The same people seem to be charged all the time.”

Jamie Law, owner of local restaurant Law & Orders, says those using drugs in Pembroke have accosted his family and his business.

“Everyone’s high,” Law said to CTV News.

“They’re defecating on our property. It’s happened to my house numerous times. We’re finding needles, syringes, and crack pipes.

“My wife actually wants to move. My children are very scared. We don’t go outside at nighttime. I have to check my yard daily to see what paraphernalia I’m going to find.”

On the receiving end of frustration from some residents is The Grind, where many of Pembroke’s homeless population attend daily for meals.

Manager Tina Spurrell says one of the people found dead this week was a known client.

“It’s been a really hard couple of days. We have supports in place; we have victim services on site,” said Spurrell.

“The opioid epidemic is has hit the city and the county of Renfrew very, very hard. We’re doing everything we can to try and support those who do have addictions.”

When asked about the criticism The Grind receives for attracting a population connected with drug use, Spurrell said circumstances would be much worse in the city without The Grind.

“I understand where they’re coming from; however, if we weren’t here, it would be a lot worse. Yes, perhaps we do attract people, but they’re coming here for help. And that’s what we’re trying to do, is help them.”

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