Local British Columbia politicians passed the three resolutions calling on the province to increase funding and regulation around the drug decriminalization pilot program, including expanding possession and use bans to parks and sports fields.
Delegates at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver voted to ask the province to “immediately” provide funding for addiction support services such as treatment, detoxification, overdose prevention and safe supply on a “geographically accessible.”
The resolutions, passed at the annual convention, also include a request that the province increase annual funding for the BC Justice Institute to train new officers to meet community needs.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry spoke to local leaders at this week’s convention asking for patience with the program, saying more arrests for illicit drugs will not solve the complex problems of addiction.
The most contentious debate during the vote revolved around a request that the province “further regulate the possession and use of illicit drugs” in places “where children also gather,” including bus stops and nearby beaches. beyond the parks.
The federal government approved the province’s decriminalization program changes earlier this month, prohibiting the possession of illicit drugs within a 15-metre radius of any structure in a playground, sprinkler park, wading pool or playground. skating starting September 18.
Several delegates opposed expanding the ban, agreeing with the provincial position that the most important aspect of decriminalization is removing the criminal stigma of drug users, and the resolution to ask the province to expand the bans could harm that effort.
Delegates speak for and against the motion
City of Langley Mayor Nathan Pachal spoke out against the resolution, saying his community has the third largest homeless population in Metro Vancouver, and that police and courts are failing to enforce rules that already exist. they are current.
“Our experience in Langley City is that you can have all the rules that say you can’t do this, but that doesn’t move any further toward actually solving the problem,” Pachal said. “If this solved the problem, we wouldn’t have problems with open substance use in our community, and we still do.
“We need to move forward to ensure people have access to both treatment, which is lacking in Langley City, but also a safe supply so people don’t die on our streets.”
Port Moody County. Haven Lurbiecki also opposed expanding drug bans to parks and sports fields, saying the move would push drug users “further and further to the margins.”
“Look, no one wants open substance use around kids,” he said. “That’s not what I’m advocating. But again, if we take this approach of restraining before we have services, we’re just going to see more deaths.”
However, other delegates expressed support for expanding the bans.
“I think we’re a little concerned about safe spaces to do drugs,” Smithers Coun said. Frank Wray. “We have to remember that children also need safe places to play.”
Pouce Coupe County. Kurtis Rabel stated that the existing bans do not go far enough.
“Our communities are not an experiment,” Rabel said. “These are harmful substances. While yes, there is a need for rehabilitation and detoxification, open substance use is causing serious property problems in our communities and is tearing our communities apart.”