Parksville city council voted Monday to receive the results of their needle distribution bylaw consultation and directed staff to look at setting up a meeting with the medical health officer for the central Island, Dr. Paul Hasselback.
Council initially wanted to just receive the report for information, but chief administrative officer Keeva Kehler requested further instruction be given to staff.
Mayor Ed Mayne said the report from Hasselback contained quite a lot of detail that needed to be looked at in order to make adjustments to the bylaw. Mayne said he was fine with initially receiving the report, and then going back to staff in order to “work around points to come up with something that is a little bit clearer.”
However, Kehler requested specific direction from council as to the next step that staff should take. Kehler said she understands that a lot of changes would have to be made in order to make the bylaw acceptable to Hasselback.
Consultation with a medical health officer is mandatory in B.C. for municipalities looking to enact bylaws that deal with the delivery of health services.
Coun. Adam Fras suggested that staff continue with the consultation process, and arrange a meeting with Hasselback, certain council members and perhaps the Minister of Health in order to work through the necessary changes to the bylaw.
Several council members including Coun. Teresa Patterson, Coun. Marilyn Wilson and Coun. Doug O’Brien voiced their support for Fras’s motion.
O’Brien said it seems, based on the results of the consultation, that the bylaw would need a complete rewrite.
O’Brien cited the fact that the bylaw as written could cause issues on what he described as very serious legal grounds, and that it “could be construed as nullifying harm reduction plans by the medical officials.”
“I feel that we have to look at this… to actually have [Dr. Hasselback] assist in the rewriting,” said O’Brien.
Mayor Ed Mayne acknowledged that the bylaw and the consultation are on what he deemed “extreme ends” of policy belief in regards to needle distribution.
“We’re a long, long ways apart here,” said Mayne.
Mayne is concerned that harm reduction tactics are coming at the expense of some Parksville citizens, citing claims that four people had been pricked by inappropriately discarded needles in the city.
He also expressed his desire for Minister of Health Adrian Dix to be present at the proposed meeting.
• The city experienced technical difficulties with video playback of the Nov. 4 council meeting.
According to manager of communications Deb Tardiff, it is unlikely the video will be able to be recovered, and will not be available online to watch as is usually the case.