Kelowna mayor wants province to ban use of drugs in parks with playgrounds

Dyas: ban drugs in parks

Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas is urging the provincial government to exclude parks from drug decriminalization rules that took effect this year.

The federal government decriminalized small amounts of street drugs in B.C. earlier this year in a three-year pilot program.

Dyas says his proposal focuses on parks with playgrounds in them.

"We had discussions when I went to Victoria a couple of weeks ago; we brought up the subject that with decriminalization, possession remains illegal on premises of elementary and secondary schools, licensed childcare facilities, at airports, and on Canadian Coast Guard vessels and helicopters. We have asked them to look at adding parks and playgrounds," says Dyas.

The mayor wants the measures to be enforced across the province and not just in certain municipalities. "We want a consistent and harmonized approach. We want to advocate that it is a provincial measure — we don't want to look at imposing a bylaw or something along those lines."

"We want to decrease the chance of a child coming in contact with any type of syringes or foil or anything along those lines, which are used and potentially dangerous drug paraphernalia."

Other municipalities, like Penticton and Sicamous, have taken steps to deal with drug consumption in public spaces with their own bylaws.

"We want to take a collaborative approach and see if we can have it consistent throughout the province and added to the list of the existing exemptions that are in place just because it will make it easier for everyone to understand, not only RCMP, but also our residents and tourists," Dyas says.

So far, Dyas says he has received positive feedback from the province, but he recognizes the move could take some time.

"We think there would be benefits to implementing it immediately, but there is a process. There are other communities, like New Westminster and some other communities throughout the province, who are also asking the same question. So hopefully, together we can be heard, and they will make some adjustments," Dyas says.

One of the reasons Dyas is hoping for an answer sooner rather than later is due to his concern that decriminalization in B.C. may create an influx of drug users from other provinces coming to Kelowna.

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