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

High-speed Internet has become a necessity during the pandemic as many people work from home. (File photo)
Golden residents encouraged to test Internet speeds

Golden has not been deemed eligible for federal funding

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

The Okanagan Regional Library is holding a pair of online contests for its young readers. (File photo)
Okanagan Regional Library challenges young readers

Pair of contests online aimed at kids aged up to 18

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford Tulip Festival is closing, with plans to rebloom in Armstrong

Event organizer says pandemic and sale of land were factors in decision

Group of cowboys on horses out rounding up cattle, 1888. The Greater Vernon Museum and Archives is celebrating Vernon Winter Carnival’s Wild West theme with a virtual trip back in time looking at the ranching days. (GVMA #5021)
Museum rounds up North Okanagan’s wild west past

Vernon Winter Carnival event, Meanwhile…Back at the Ranch, Feb. 9

Virtual programming will assist the Allan Brooks Nature Centre Society in spreding environmental education. (ABNCS photo)
North Okanagan nature centre online with gaming grant

Allan Brooks Nature Centre Society benefits from provincial funds

Penticton Search and Rescue completed two rescues in succession of each other Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 afternoon. (PENSAR / Facebook)
Penticton Search and Rescue members execute back-to-back rescues

PENSAR had barely completed their first rescue of the day when they received a second call

Three cars had their tires slashed in Vernon over the weekend. (Contributed)
Tires slashed at three North Okanagan residences

RCMP investigating Okanagan Landing-area incidents

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

Auldin Maxwell stacks the 693rd block on the top of record-breaking Jenga tower on Nov. 29. (Submitted)
Salmon Arm boy rests world-record attempt on single Jenga brick

Auldin Maxwell, 12, is now officially a Guinness world record holder.

Most Read