LIONS BAY, B.C. — A politician in British Columbia is apologizing for spreading a false story about a teenage boy who supposedly died from a drug overdose.
Lions Bay Mayor Karl Buhr said in a council meeting last month that his 14-year-old son's friend dropped dead after inhaling "vape juice" laced with the highly potent opioid fentanyl.
Buhr said in an interview on Tuesday that he's since been informed much of the story was an urban myth.
"Unfortunately, I reported an incorrect rumour," he said.
The mayor for the village located midway between Vancouver and Whistler said he originally shared the story with his council colleagues to illustrate that the provincial opioid overdose crisis is getting closer to home.
The BC Coroners Service released data last week showing that 1,422 people across the province died from illicit drug overdoses last year.
Buhr said he wanted his colleagues to think about what, if anything, council could do about the issue.
I don't think people look to me as their mayor to be the all-seeing, all-knowing national trend-setter.Karl Buhr
Now he's apologizing publicly for recounting the tall tale and says doing so probably hurt his reputation.
"It probably has damaged my credibility," Buhr said. "I don't think people look to me as their mayor to be the all-seeing, all-knowing national trend-setter. I deliver things that people care about — new water pipes, low taxes, stuff like that. I am a small-town, local politician."
The real issue is fatal overdoses, Buhr says
He added that he doesn't want the incident detracting from the issue of fatal drug overdoses.
"I don't want my ham-fistedness to detract from the real message, which is: these things are everywhere," Buhr said.
"This particular incident wasn't as reported, but there are 10 stories like this a day and they are real, so what are we doing about it?"
Several teens in Lions Bay have died from overdoses over the past few years, Buhr said, adding that he's spoken with many people who believe the idyllic village is isolated from the problem.
"I think a lot of people are in denial. I still hear a lot of people saying 'That's never going to happen here.' That gets my goat."
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