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Some B.C. mayors say illicit drug ban near child-focused spaces doesn't go far enough


Three B.C. mayors say a ban on illicit drugs in some spaces is a move in the right direction, but should be further expanded.

On Thursday, Premier David Eby announced the province is banning possession of illicit drugs within 15 metres of playground play structures, spray pools, wading pools and skate parks. The new rules come into effect Sept. 18.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West believes the move comes up short and defies logic.

“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,” West said. “When the province rolled out decriminalization, these are the types of things that they should have thought about at the beginning.”

In June, Port Coquitlam council amended bylaws banning illicit drugs in all public spaces. Since then, at least a dozen other municipalities – including Kamloops, Prince George, Penticton, Nelson and Campbell River – have made similar moves to ban drug use in certain areas.

In addition to drug use in parks, Nelson Mayor Janice Morrison said the city was hearing concerns about drug use around the Nelson District Community Complex.

“(The centre) houses gymnastics, soccer, two seniors' groups, it also has the boy scouts' hall on site and a dance studio,” Morrison said. “In our bylaw, we have also put no use within proximity of this building.”

Morrison said the new rules are a good step forward, but believes they could be expanded.

“To have an exemption that includes recreation centres would be key,” she said.

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim also said he was “super excited” about the development.

“We’ve been speaking with residents across Vancouver and they’ve brought it up as a big concern, so we asked the province to address the issue with Health Canada,” Sim said, adding he would like to see the ban extended to areas such as libraries and transit stations.

During Thursday’s announcement, Eby acknowledged that “it’s not the full response that local governments and people in communities are looking for,” but said more law changes were coming in the fall.

Drug advocates said they are disappointed in the way these changes have been communicated. Brittany Graham with the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users told CTV News that drug users have always had a “code of ethics” when it comes to drugs around children.

“If a child walks by a group of folks on East Hastings, you’ll hear 'baby on the block' or 'child on the block,' and that reiterates to people to put your stuff away,” Graham said. “To assume that people using drugs are looking to go into areas that children are in is a new version of 'Just Say No' or the War on Drugs stigma.” Top Stories

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