A Victoria, B.C. city councillor wants to take advantage of an exemption in the federal government’s order to decriminalize open drug use in the province by making it illegal again to consume substances near “child-focused spaces.”
Coun. Stephen Hammond is set to introduce a motion banning “possession and use of illicit drugs near child-focused spaces” Thursday to the city’s Committee of the Whole.
Last year, Health Canada granted an exemption to British Columbia under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act effectively decriminalizing possession and consumption of certain illegal drugs.
Hammond’s motion cited how the federal government’s order allows for municipalities and the province to add a list of public locations where drug use would remain illegal.
“At the very least, we can take action as a city to ensure children are protected from the harms of open illicit drug use and to ensure such harmful and life-threatening behaviour isn’t normalized,” wrote Hammond.
Hammond’s motion calls on Victoria to ban “use and possession of illegal drugs” within 30 metres of “child-focused spaces.”
“Child-focused spaces” are defined as sports fields, tennis courts, picnic tables, bus shelters, libraries and community centres.
Earlier this month, B.C. Premier David Eby announced that use of illicit drugs would be banned within 15 metres of playgrounds, spray pools, wading pools and skate parks.
Additionally, the City of Victoria has already banned drug use within eight metres of any area where children congregate. About a dozen municipalities including Prince George, Nelson, Campbell River and others have moved to add additional banned locations under the exemption.
Several British Columbia mayors have spoken out against the recent expansions to banned areas as not going far enough, with Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West saying the bans should apply to sport fields and other public spaces.
“The same rationale that says you shouldn’t be smoking crack or using fentanyl in a children’s playground should apply to sports fields where children are playing soccer and baseball,” said West.
“When the province rolled out decriminalization, these are the types of things that they should have thought about at the beginning.”
Some have even suggested a full ban on drug use at all public facilities.