Canada's drug capital

Depending on how you interpret the numbers, Kelowna is Canada's drug capital.

RCMP in the Central Okanagan have been busy trying to get those involved in the drug trade off the streets.

The numbers back it up. But, whether it's good news or not depends on your perspective and which side of the fence you're sitting on.

Figures available through Statistics Canada show Kelowna was No. 1 in charges laid for possession of marijuana, cocaine and heroin in 2014.

Numbers take into account only the 34 census metropolitan areas, cities or regions with a population of more than 150,000. Kelowna became a CMA following the 2006 census.

According to Stats Can figures, in 2014, local RCMP dealt with 453 marijuana possession cases per 100,000 people, 119 cocaine cases and 34.7 heroin cases.

After steadily climbing since 2010 (225 cases), 2014 figures for marijuana possession were down slightly over the previous year.

While the stats may appear alarming, Kelowna's top cop said he sees the figures as a good news story.

"That's a stat where I like to be No. 1 because it shows we are being very proactive and tenacious in what we do," said RCMP Supt. Nick Romanchuk.

"I am absolutely convinced that as our drug enforcement numbers increase, our overall crime rate will decrease. This will be a focus for us and continue to be."

Romanchuk said one of the top priorities within the Kelowna detachment is targeting prolific offenders, many of whom are involved in the drug trade.

"It is about drug enforcement, but there's a bigger picture here.

"It's more about targeting prolific offenders, that small group of people that cause the most harm. If we can target them through their driving, their drug use, as a way to take them off the street, that's a good thing."

Kelowna has been tops among the 34 cities in marijuana possession for the past three years.

The city has also been the No. 1 city when it comes to cocaine possession cases in three of the past four years. Victoria topped the list in 2011.

Cases of heroin possession have been steadily increasing in the Kelowna CMA since 2010.

Kelowna has been No. 1 the past four years. Possession related cases have risen from 5.5 in 2010 to 34.7 in 2014.


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