FILE – Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart speaks during a press conference in Vancouver on July 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

FILE – Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart speaks during a press conference in Vancouver on July 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver mayor asks for approval to decriminalize personal possession of illicit drugs

Vancouver has seen over 1,500 illicit drug deaths since the provincial health emergency was declared

The mayor of B.C.’s largest city has asked Ottawa for approval to decriminalize personal possession of illicit drugs.

In a Wednesday (Nov. 18) statement, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said he wants to go towards a health-focussed approach to substance use. Vancouver has had 290 illicit drug deaths so far in 2020, more than double that of the next city. Overall, B.C. has seen 1,202 fatal overdoses so far this year, with spikes in recent months likely linked to isolation and other unintended consequences of measures put in place to control the spread of COVID-19.

“Personal possession and use of drugs is not a criminal justice issue, it is a health issue,” said Mayor Stewart. “It is time to end the stigma around substance use, help connect more of our neighbours to health care, and save lives.”

Stewart said Vancouver itself has seen more than 1,500 illicit drug deaths since the provincial health emergency was declared in 2016.

Stewart plans to bring up his initiative as a motion at city council. If passed, the city would request a federal exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize personal possession of illicit substances within Vancouver limits for medical purposes.

On the provincial level, both Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry have called for simple drug possession to be decriminalized.

READ MORE: B.C. records 127 fatal overdoses in September, roughly 4 each day


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Drugs

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

Just Posted

Nurse Doreen Littlejohn takes a longterm approach in her outreach work with homelessness in Parksville Qualicum Beach, but says more needs to be done now. (Auren Ruvinsky photo)
‘Women face a much different experience on the street’: Parksville Qualicum Beach nurse

Littlejohn says community needs to be part of solution to homelessness

Parksville’s French Creek Harbour experienced a diesel spill on Nov. 23 after a barge and fishing vessel collided. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Coast Guard cleans up diesel spill in Parksville’s French Creek Harbour

Barge carrying fuel truck collides with fishing vessel

Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Course. (File photo)
Qualicum Beach golf course notified restaurant patron tests positive for COVID-19

Staff to self-monitor until Nov. 28, can continue with daily duties

Toy Drive ‘drive through’ cancelled for Nov. 25. (Courtesy of Tigh-Na-Mara)
Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive drive through cancelled for Nov. 25

Resort will continue to accept donations on behalf of the Society of Organized Services

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Stock photo
Senior from Gibsons caught viewing child porn sentenced to 10 months

74-year-old pleaded guilty after police seized 1,500-2,500 images

(Pixabay)
All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

The North Island 9-1-1 Corporation (NI911) has supported local residents for 25 years. Black Press file photo
North Island 911 looks to change how they get funding

Three options to be decided upon in early 2021

Most Read