Central Saanich council has voted unanimously to follow Saanich in publicly voicing the municipality’s support to decriminalize simple drug possession. (Black Press Media file photo)

Central Saanich council has voted unanimously to follow Saanich in publicly voicing the municipality’s support to decriminalize simple drug possession. (Black Press Media file photo)

Central Saanich joins calls for decriminalization of drug possession

Recent figures show 2020 was the deadliest year in B.C.’s opioid crisis with 1,716 deaths

Central Saanich joins a growing list of municipalities across Greater Victoria and Canada calling on the federal government to liberalize drug laws as a response to the rising death toll from the opioid crisis.

Councillors Monday voted unanimously to follow Saanich in publicly voicing the municipality’s support to decriminalize simple drug possession. Victoria – one of the provincial epicentres of the opioid-crisis, having recorded 118 overdose-related deaths in 2020 – has also passed language calling for the decriminalization of personal use.

With this move, Central Saanich joins a chorus of public health officials, politicians and police critical of current drug laws.

RELATED: With 1,716 deaths, 2020 deadliest year of overdose crisis in B.C. history

RELATED: Victoria advocates call for decriminalization of illicit drugs amid record number of overdoses

RELATED: Councillors call on Saanich to address overdose crisis, explore options for safe consumption sites

Councillors had signed off in a separate vote on language that directs staff to report back with options following discussions with local health agencies and non-profits addressing the overdose crisis about whether Central Saanich could support safe consumption sites and other potential actions local governments could take to help.

The language also calls on Central Saanich to request Ottawa declare the overdose crisis a national public health emergency, immediately seek input from the people most affected by the crisis and meet with provinces and territories to develop a comprehensive overdose action plan, including full consideration of reforms that other countries have used to significantly reduce drug-related fatalities and stigma, such as legal regulation of illicit drugs and decriminalization for personal use.

Comments from Coun. Chris Graham gave the discussion a poignant personal note. “This is a very important issue,” he said. “I lost two family members in the last several years to the opioid crisis. I have lost a cousin and a niece. It’s far more common than people tend to realize and it’s something that we should be actively involved in preventing. What we have been doing in the past hasn’t been working.”

The public heard a brief discussion around the question of whether the municipality risked overstepping its jurisdiction by supporting the decriminalization, as raised by Coun. Gordon Newton. Mayor Ryan Windsor said this represents a case of advocacy. “We are not taking away jurisdiction, we are advocating,” added Coun. Zeb King.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

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

Just Posted

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

The application proposing to rezone Western Speedway was passed by Langford’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee Feb 8. A petition has since been started by residents of Trudie Terrace, hoping to stop the proposed residential portion of the development plan. (CBRE Victoria)
Petition opposing Western Speedway development proposal gains steam

Save Thetis Heights Neighborhood petition aims to stop extension of Trudie Terrace

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

Boma Brown won the Emerging Leader Award for her work founding the Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. (Courtesy of Boma Brown)
Victoria SNIWWOC founder up for national women’s award for volunteer efforts

Victoria’s Boma Brown is a semi-finalist in the running for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read