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B.C. bringing in ban on drug use in public spaces


B.C. will be banning the use of illicit drugs in parks and on beaches, as well as near doorways and bus stops.

Premier David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced the legislation Thursday. The Restricting Public Consumption of Illegal Substances Act, when passed, will limit where drugs can be consumed while their possession remains decriminalized.

Using drugs will be prohibited within a six-metre radius of building entrances, including businesses and residential buildings; within six metres of a bus stop; at parks, beaches, and sports fields; and within 15 metres of playgrounds, spray and wading pools, and skate parks.

"If passed, the legislation will allow police officers to ask a person using drugs in any of these places to cease the activity and leave the area for another appropriate area, such as an overdose prevention or supervised consumption site," an announcement from the province says.

"If a person refuses this direction, the police officer may choose to proceed with enforcement measures, if appropriate."

The restrictions, according to officials, are similar to those that regulate the use of alcohol and tobacco in public. Bringing in province-wide legislation, Eby said, came as municipalities were raising concerns about public drug use and bringing in their own bylaws.

The move to decriminalize possession came amid a toxic drug crisis that has killed thousands and thousands of British Columbians since it was declared a public health emergency in 2016. The move is meant to reduce stigma and recognize that criminalizing people who use drugs is an ineffective response to the deadly crisis, officials have said.

"We want people to be able to come forward for help and not fear arrest for struggling with addiction, and we also recognize that places where children and families gather are not places where people should be using drugs," Farnworth said in a statement.

"The legislation introduced today reflects that." Top Stories

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