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 Gordon Head Recreation Centre stands in as the Quimper Regional Hospital on Feb. 23 for filming Maid, a 10-part Netflix series. (Greg Sutton/District of Saanich)
Netflix transforms Saanich recreation centre into hospital for filming

Facility was closed to public Feb. 23 for filming of Maid

Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fighting fire a family affair for Colwood Assistant Chief Greg Chow

With 38 years of service, Greg Chow is the 2021 Hero of the Year

This rendering shows plans for the new “flyover”overpass connecting northbound traffic on Highway 17 heading west on Keating Cross Road. Plans currently seeking public input propose two options for the median along Keating Cross Road. Option 1 will prevent left turns onto Tamany Drive and Buena Vista Road. Option 2 (seen here)will allow for left turns onto Tamany Drive and Bujena Vista Road. (Screencap/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Public asked for comment on proposed overpass for Pat Bay in Central Saanich

New flyover overpass proposed for Highway 17 and Keating Cross Road

Various Victoria locations were hit with a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti Wednesday. This image has been altered to cover up profane language. (Submitted photo)
UPDATED: Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti an ‘unacceptable’ form of communication says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

A 19-year-old man is in police custody following a recent violent robbery and assault in Comox . (File photo)
Arrest made in violent robbery and assault of Comox gas station employee

19-year-old man in police custody after incident where woman was putting things in her car

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Most Read