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

The scene of a single-vehicle crash along Dolphin Drive in Nanoose Bay on Monday morning, April 19. (Mandy Moraes photo)
RCMP: No injuries reported in rollover crash in Nanoose Bay

Police say passengers indicate driver left the scene

The Town of Qualicum Beach plans to establish temporary shelters. (Town of Qualicum Beach illustration)
Town of Qualicum Beach seeks $1.25M grant to build temporary housing units

Aim is to move tenants in prior to the end of 2021

Mount Arrowsmith Teachers’ Association and its Nanaimo-Ladysmith counterpart seek stricter COVID-19 rules. (PQB News file photo)
Mount Arrowsmith teachers’ union asks health authority for stricter COVID-19 measures

Teachers ask for vaccine, more online learning, mask mandate for primary students

Dashwood Volunteer Fire Department emergency response vehicle. (PQB News file photo)
Dashwood fire department issues warning to residents to hold off on yard debris burning

Fire chief: ‘Hold off on burning until we get some rain’

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read