Ed Mayne with photos of needles taken in Parksville by bylaw officers. (Cloe Logan photo)

Ed Mayne with photos of needles taken in Parksville by bylaw officers. (Cloe Logan photo)

Parksville still waiting for official word on rejection of proposed needle bylaw

Mayor says he is worried about resident safety

Parksville’s controversial needle bylaw and the long discussion around it has come to a close.

While reports have indicated the bylaw has been rejected by higher levels of government, the NEWS did not receive an answer from either the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, despite repeated requests for comment, nor has the city of Parksville received an official rejection at this time.

Mayor Ed Mayne said the city has requested an official rejection but has not been able to get one after trying for approximately two weeks. Mayne said the city sent a letter to Minister of Health Adrian Dix, explaining how disappointed they were in the lack of communication.

“They have never called us, to this point, we did receive an email from a staff member in another area that advised us, but it wasn’t an official announcement or recognition or anything, it was just ‘understand that it’s been turned down’,” he said. “You get past the point of massive disappointment and it’s just acceptance that they’re not going to respond to you – I haven’t gotten quite there yet.”

The bylaw, which would limit the distribution of clean hypodermic needles in the city, was discussed at a June 1 council meeting after the matter was first brought forward approximately a year ago.

At the meeting, Parksville’s chief administrative officer Keeva Kehler said she had gotten unofficial word that the bylaw wouldn’t pass. It had already received negative feedback from the medical health officer for the central Island, Dr. Paul Hasselback, who criticized the bylaw for being a potential infringement on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as a contradiction to widely accepted provincial government harm reduction practices.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that efforts to limit access to the management of ‘addictions’ are subject to review under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms… The application of the B.C. Human Rights Code may be an issue of concern for the implementation of the bylaw as written should any individual perceive that they are adversely impacted in their access to a service,” said Hasselback in a letter to council from October 2019. “In summary, the bylaw has the potential to negatively impact the health of individuals and residents of Parksville. It does so through limiting access to services known to be lifesaving and health protecting.”

“We have been told at the staff level, informally, that the city’s bylaw will not be approved by the minister in any way,” said Kehler at the June 1 meeting. “Essentially, they have said that it will be a wholesale rejection.”

In Mayne’s eyes, higher levels of government didn’t give the city enough of a chance.

“We’ve had no communications on this, whether it makes sense or not, and just have gone their own way without listening to our discussion at all,” said Mayne.

READ MORE: Parksville mayor says lack of movement on needle bylaw ‘frustrating as hell’

READ MORE: Medical health officer urges Parksville council to seek legal advice on proposed needle bylaw

READ MORE: City of Parksville rejected sharps disposal containers from Island Health

In terms of next steps, Mayne said there isn’t much more they can do. He still stands by the bylaw, which includes specifics on needle exchanges: one-for-one plus 10 needles when someone brings in a used needle. Mayne said he’s seen a lot of discarded unused needles during clean-ups and thought that would help address it. The city doesn’t have any official numbers for needles found in the area.

“People are getting these needles by the handfuls from Island Health, from their distributors, and then – I don’t know. Why would they throw them away? Except they just can’t be bothered carrying them around anymore, so they get rid of them,” said Mayne. “Does that not make sense?”

In Hasselback’s letter, he said there’s evidence that shows limiting the number of needles increases the risk of people sharing/reusing needles, which increased their risk of contracting HIV and other infections.

When asked why Mayne thought himself and council were qualified to create a bylaw about this, he said they were just trying to put some control on needle distribution.

“There is no control – there is no control over cigarettes and alcohol over the distribution of needles,” he said. “If it’s a medical issue, don’t you think it should be controlled a little bit tighter? Do you know of anything else that the medical community deals with that they’re not in control of? In this one, they’re not.”

Overall, Mayne feels like the problem of discarded needles is getting worse, and said he is worried about the safety of people in Parksville. He pointed to sharps containers as another failed effort at limiting the numbers of needles on the ground. The city sent back three unused sharps containers to Island Health last summer because they thought they were too expensive and ineffective.

“Sharps containers is a fallacy, it’s a feel-good thing,” he said. “It doesn’t work and nobody has been able to show me where it does.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

City CouncilIsland HealthParksville

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits Nanoose Bay property

Experts say interesting look may simply be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

The section of Highway 19A between Laburnum Road and Goodyear Road was closed to traffic due to a single vehicular accident. (DriveBC illustration)
Section of highway closed after vehicle hits pole near Qualicum Beach

Traffic disrupted for hours; two people taken to hospital

Joan LeMoine. (Peter McCully photo)
OPINION: Joan LeMoine represented the very best in all of us

Beloved Parksville area volunteer left an indelible mark on the community

Seiners fill the waters between Comox and Nanoose Bay during roe herring fishery. file photo, Pacific Wild
Quota debate heats up on the eve of Vancouver Island herring fishery

Industry and conservationists weigh in how much catch should be allowed as DFO decision coming soon

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker in Nanaimo fails at fraud attempt, slams door on business owner’s foot

VIDEO: Suspect causes pain and damage in incident downtown Friday morning

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Randy Brown, owner of Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue, has five trailers and a motorhome at the back of his property that he is renting to people who had been previously homeless. He wants to put 15 trailers on his property, hooked up to city sewer and water and BC Hydro. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Alberni building owner digs in, refuses to remove illegal trailers

Port Alberni council gives owner two-week reprieve on remediation orders

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Dr. Shannon Waters, the medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, is reminding people to stay the course with COVID-19 measures. (File photo)
‘Stay the course’ with COVID measures, Island Health reminds

Limit social activity, wash hands, wear a mask, and isolate if you feel sick

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Most Read