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HomeNewsCampbell RiverPublic drug use added to city's nuisance bylaw, after months of discussion

Public drug use added to city’s nuisance bylaw, after months of discussion

After sparking a province-wide debate, Campbell River has passed legislation preventing drug use in most public spaces.

Last night council adopted amendments to the public nuisance bylaw, so it now prohibits the consumption of controlled substances within 15 metres of playgrounds, sports fields and courts, bus shelters, and most city-owned facilities. That includes the Spirit Square, Tidemark Theatre and library; City Hall and Nunns Creek Park are not covered.

The amendment was supported unanimously. Councilor Ron Kerr says he’s glad to see it going ahead.

“I’m really pleased to finally get this adopted and start to protect our vulnerable in this community, our mothers and children and seniors in our downtown area and our parks,” he says.

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Councilor Doug Chapman agrees, and says the city has given police and bylaw enforcement a tool they can use to keep the peace. He says he hopes it is used judiciously.

The city tried to introduce a bylaw amendment in January, after possession of illicit drugs was decriminalized in BC. After criticism from Island Health and a legal challenge, it was withdrawn and rewritten to be more focused. However, after Campbell River’s amendment attempt attracted provincial attention, several other communities in BC passed similar legislation.

In the meantime, the city has received many letters from downtown businesses and individuals concerned about the rise in open drug use, especially in places where children and families gather. The city has also heard from people concerned a bylaw stigmatizes people suffering from addiction and could prevent them from getting help. Some of the strongest criticisms came from Island Health and the provincial addictions ministry. However, last month Premier David Eby said the province is working legislation for this fall which will help municipalities deal with the issue of drugs in public parks.

In Campbell River, the city plans to enforce the bylaw through education and awareness for six months before looking at issuing fines for violations.

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