The province is committing up to $3.5 million for on-the-ground efforts to fight B.C.'s overdose crisis.

In a statement issued during the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, the minister of mental health and addictions said some of the cash would be doled out through grants.

The funding is earmarked for community-based initiatives that look to find solutions on the local level, Judy Darcy said.

Examples include needle distribution and recovery programs and projects that aim to reduce the stigma.

"From day one, we recognized that it is people on the ground, on the front lines of the overdose crisis who know best what works in their communities, large and small," Darcy said in the statement.

Those behind community projects can apply for up to $50,000 through the Community Wellness and Harm Reduction Grant Program. Eligible projects must be led by municipalities in partnership with a regional health authority.

In addition to those grants, 35 communities the province says have been hit hardest by the crisis are getting up to $150,000 in funding for community action teams, which will escalate local strategies. Nineteen of these teams are already operating in B.C.

New teams will be established in the following communities:

  • Hope
  • Tri-Cities
  • Mission
  • South Surrey/White Rock
  • Penticton
  • Grand Forks
  • Nelson/Castlegar
  • West Kelowna
  • Williams Lake
  • Oceanside
  • Comox Valley
  • Quesnel
  • Dawson Creek
  • Terrace
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Sea to Sky Corridor (Squamish, Whistler Pemberton)

Erin Welk, a facilitator of Kelowna's community action team, said the group launched in her city earlier this year.

"To date, 30 individuals with lived experience in drug use and homelessness have completed a series of learning modules and are employed throughout the community in a variety of meaningful work," she said in the statement from the province.

"Through this work, People Employment Services aims to address problematic stigma that is a barrier to inclusion and belonging in our communities."