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Bob Kronbauer: RIP Jamie Pickett, a spark that helped ignite V.I.A.

RIP Jamie Pickett

It’s seemingly only a matter of time until all of us will be directly affected by the toxic drug crisis in B.C., and today I’m saddened to report that one of my friends has passed away after taking poisoned drugs. He was an early spark that helped ignite this very publication you’re reading, and he will be greatly missed by many people.

Jamie Pickett was born in Rock Creek in 1976 and spent time living in Vernon (where we became fast friends), and a few other towns in B.C., including Nanaimo and on Gabriola Island. You were lucky if you ever got to meet him.

A naturally-gifted skateboarder who was featured in Concrete Powder magazine, Jamie had an inquisitive mind, was keen on talking about business, and will forever be a part of our story.

When I first moved to Vancouver from the Okanagan in 1995, Jamie was my only friend here. He had moved to the city before me and became a sort of tour guide, showing me around and making my eyes widen at the sights.

He took me to all of his secret spots, as well as the not-so-secret ones, inspiring me to not only seek out more, but to also share those places with other people the way he did with me.

He introduced me to the now-gone Aristocratic Restaurant at Broadway and Main Street, where we drank many coffees and would talk about our plans for the day, and for the future.

Among countless other things, he also showed me the secret passageway that you could climb at night to get onto the private rooftop garden of Duthie Books on the corner of Granville and Georgia. We would sit up there on the edge of the building for hours looking down at the busy streets below, talking about what we were going to do with our lives.

We went everywhere in Vancouver together, and I owe a lot of the deeper knowledge I have of this place to him and our explorations. But over the years we fell out of touch, and this week I got the devastating news that he had passed away after taking toxic drugs.

While the grief is heavy, I’m glad to be able to share a tiny piece of the story of his life, and his impact, with you.

Over the years my publication has continually reported the numbers, brought you stories from other people who have lost their loved ones, and presented countless opinions from experts on how to help alleviate the crisis. Our archives are filled with stories about what the government has deemed a public health “emergency” since 2016, yet have been incredibly slow to act on any real policy changes that might help solve it.

Instead of simply sitting here waiting and reporting numbers, quotes, and promises from politicians, my hope is that we can work to fill our archives with more stories about the people we’ve lost. I’m a firm believer that everyone’s life is an interesting story that others can learn from, and if you’d like to share the story of your loved one who you lost to toxic drugs please email me at

Like more than 10,000 British Columbians who died in this crisis before him, Jamie Pickett was a human being. Our politicians owe it to him, and everyone in this province who will one day be affected, to find a way out of this.

Rest easy, Jamie. I love you.

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