What will the new bylaw accomplish? Nothing!: letter


What on Earth could Campbell River councilors be thinking—passing a bylaw to try to nullify, in Campbell River, the new exemption that Health Canada has granted B.C. to decriminalize possession/use of small amounts of certain illegal drugs in an attempt to turn back the soaring death rates among drug users in this province?

As though trying to underline the absurdity of their action, Campbell River councilors not only did not seek an opinion on the consequences of their actions from their Island Medical Health Officer, they–in classical don’t confuse me with facts mode–ignored email correspondence from their MHO on the topic.

What will the new bylaw accomplish? Nothing! Yes, the bylaw will prohibit the consumption of street drugs on public property such as municipal parks, city facilities and roads(!). Bylaw violators will be subject to a fine of $200. $200! Health Canada granted the exemption because of the soaring death rates! How could one imagine that a $200 fine will deter someone who is so addicted they risk their lives for another hit of these deadly drugs? Did Campbell River Council (CRC) consider how they will collect $200 from someone who doesn’t even have a home or bank account? Will they confiscate and auction off the carts in which these most unfortunate individuals carry the sum total of their possessions?

This absurd bylaw looks more like some sort of poorly-considered vengeance against the destitute than meaningful social policy. If they had been willing to at least receive correspondence from their MHO their actions might have had a speck of meaningful policy rather than just trying to strike out at our least fortunate citizens.

I lost an extended family member to our blind-to-any-social-good drug laws. It wasn’t easy. I knew him when he wasn’t on the drugs, when he was a pleasure to be around; when he loved and cared for the people around him; when the world/our society was a better place for his presence. But because laws on possession ensured that he took the deadly drugs in seclusion—he died in seclusion. And his mother still cries these two years later.

Did CRC consider that if people had a home they would do their drugs there rather than in Campbell River streets?

If CRC had been at least been willing to hear from their MHO they might have found effective ways to get drug use off their streets by getting these most unfortunate people into a home/shelter where they can do their drugs privately. If they had been willing to listen to their MHO they might come up with the idea of supporting safe supply and safe use sites where drug users could encounter information on services to help them get off these deadly drugs—and not be using in the streets of Campbell River.

Instead, CRC chose social vindictiveness over informed, meaningful, effective social policy. At a time when other political leaders are finally coming around to the idea of harm reduction as a way out of a crisis that all the repression has not dented in the slightest it is sad to hear of such social shortsightedness.

Norm Reynolds

Campbell River

Campbell River

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