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Local governments to ask B.C. for more funding, regulations for drug decriminalization

An undated photo shows illicit drugs being prepared for use. An undated photo shows illicit drugs being prepared for use.

Local politicians in British Columbia have passed all three resolutions asking the province to boost funding and regulation around the drug decriminalization pilot program, including expanding possession and use prohibitions to parks and sports fields.

Delegates at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver voted to request the province “immediately” provide funding for addiction support services such as treatment, detox, overdose prevention and safe supply on a “geographically accessible” basis.

The resolutions, passed at the annual convention, also include a request that the province increase annual funding to the Justice Institute of B.C. for training new officers to meet community needs.

The most contentious debate during the vote came around the request for the province to “further regulate the possession and use of illicit drugs” in places “where children also gather,” including bus stops and beaches beyond park spaces.

The federal government gave the province approval for changes to the decriminalization program earlier this month, banning illicit drug possession within 15 metres of any structures in a playground, spray park, wading pool or skate park starting Sept. 18.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry spoke to local leaders at the convention this week asking for patience on the program, saying more arrests for illicit drugs won't address the complex issues of addiction.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2023 Top Stories


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