Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog talks about ‘hypocrisy’ around drug enforcement and harm reduction in Canada during discussion about supervised consumption at Monday’s city council meeting at the Shaw Auditorium. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo city council decides not to ease zoning for supervised consumption

Mayor blasts ‘hypocrisy’ around drug enforcement and harm reduction in Canada

Nanaimo city council won’t ease zoning for supervised consumption after all.

The topic of potential supervised consumption sites came back to the council table Monday and councillors decided not to follow through with zoning amendments they had asked for in the summer.

The decision means any supervised consumption site application will still have to go through a public process and be subject to council’s approval.

Last July, city council voted to direct staff to bring forward proposed bylaw amendments that would have allowed supervised consumption at any medical office, which would have removed the requirement for a public hearing.

But the amendments brought forward by staff Monday – with options to leave decision-making to Island Health or put buffer zones around schools – were not supported by council and failed on a 7-2 vote.

Coun. Erin Hemmens said the choice of the two options presented “[doesn’t] feel sophisticated enough for the depth of the the problem that we’re facing.”

Coun. Ian Thorpe said adding supervised consumption to medical office zoning looks like an attempt to “hide the truth” and said trusting that the city’s input into federal application processes would be considered is not good enough for him or for citizens.

“As council, we have to advocate not just for one segment of the population, but for all of our citizens and we have to be mindful of the safety of our citizens and the well-being of our businesses that drive our city’s economy,” Thorpe said.

Dr. Paul Hasselback, medical health officer for central Vancouver Island, argued for the zoning amendments, saying the City of Nanaimo’s current medical office zoning that precludes drug addiction treatment wouldn’t stand up to a human rights tribunal challenge.

“The language in this bylaw is so discriminatory it’s amazing that it continues to be there,” he said. “I think you can tweak some stuff, but you have to get rid of something which discriminates against people with substance use disorders.”

Asked about the urgency for supervised consumption, Hasselback said “it doesn’t sound like it’s very urgent” to city council, but also said he didn’t think there’s money in the system to start such a service right now.

“I’m fairly sure we wouldn’t automatically begin the conversation, but I will say that we have curtailed any conversation until this is resolved here,” he said.

Mayor Leonard Krog suggested drug legalization should be put to a national referendum and in the meantime, “we are engaged in an incredible mess of hypocrisy and stupidity” between drug enforcement and harm reduction.

“[This] is the last I want to hear from this until the provincial government … and the federal government finally step up to the plate [and] address the hypocrisy of trying to restrict the use of substances that people continue to use, whether illegal or not, and asking taxpayers on one hand to have police go out and try to arrest folks and on another hand, have health officials ensure that they take the drugs so they don’t die in the process,” Krog said. “This is ridiculous. This is ridiculous on every level.”

After the zoning amendment motion failed, Coun. Tyler Brown motioned that council direct staff to bring forward new zoning amendments to amend the definition of medical offices, excluding supervised consumption but potentially allowing for other drug addiction treatment services, and also refer discussion of supervised consumption sites to the city’s health and housing task force.

“I don’t think this is a perfect motion, but the intention is to address some immediate concerns that we can address with zoning and at least carry on the conversation of supervised consumption sites, and hopefully get it to a place where we’re at least prepared and ready to go if there’s a site-specific application,” Brown said.

The initial motion to amend medical office zoning to allow supervised consumption a certain distance from schools failed 7-2 with only councillors Jim Turley and Brown in favour. The second motion, to ask staff for new potential medical office zoning amendments excluding supervised consumption, passed 7-2 with councillors Turley and Thorpe opposed.

TODAY’S MOST-READ: B.C. woman refuses to pay overdue rent based on income raised collecting empty cans

YESTERDAY’S MOST-READ: Six vehicles involved in crash on Nanaimo’s Needham Street



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield near Nanaimo

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say fines for accumulations of ice and snow

Nanaimo theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat

Nanaimo RCMP seek identity of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

VIU professor concerned about myths around insect apocalypse

Jasmine Janes’s work published in peer-reviewed journal BioScience

Clerk bruised, traumatized after armed robbery at Quarterway Liquor Store

Few details on male suspect in Wednesday incident, says Nanaimo RCMP

VIU Mariners teams back on home court

Volleyball, basketball teams hosting action all weekend at Vancouver Island University gym

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

BC Ferries hybrid ships arrive in Victoria on Saturday

The battery-operated vessels will take over smaller routes

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Beefs & Bouquets, Jan. 16

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

One last blast of winter tonight for parts of the Island before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

Most Read