The Pandora Supervised Consumption Centre in Victoria. BLACK PRESS file photo

The Pandora Supervised Consumption Centre in Victoria. BLACK PRESS file photo

Supervised consumption sites will no longer require public hearings

Nanaimo city council votes to define supervised drug consumption as a health service

An obstacle to a supervised drug consumption site in Nanaimo is being removed, as city council has voted to define supervised consumption as a health service.

At a meeting Monday night, Nanaimo city council passed a motion that will essentially remove the current requirement for supervised consumption sites to go through a public hearing process.

City staff’s recommendation was for council to retain decision-making power over supervised consumption site locations, but that motion was defeated on a 4-4 tie vote. A motion to start a process to alter a bylaw to make supervised consumption a health service then passed 5-3.

“Just proceeding as is, kicking the can down the line, isn’t going to solve the problem,” said Coun. Tyler Brown. “I’m not saying that this is going to solve the problem, but at least it’s trying to move forward in the right direction.”

Brown’s motion included a provision that the city work with Island Health to develop a policy around siting for supervised consumption sites.

Coun. Jim Turley supported the motion, saying the issue of addictions isn’t necessarily a city responsibility.

“At least, it’s not something we can deal with, and yet on the other hand, we’re turning around and we’re making it potentially difficult for the level of government who wants to actually deal with it,” he said.

“So I think we need to develop a level of trust with the other levels of government, let them do their job and let’s get this problem fixed,” Turley said.

Coun. Ben Geselbracht agreed, saying that “because of inaction we are withholding an essential service” that can help save lives.

In 2017, Island Health applied to the City of Nanaimo to re-zone the overdose prevention site on Wesley Street into a supervised consumptionsite, which allows for expanded health services and outreach. Community members at a public hearing at the time voiced overwhelming opposition, citing crime and antisocial behaviour, and the re-zoning bylaw was defeated.

Coun. Erin Hemmens – who voted in favour of the first motion Monday, and then when it failed, also voted in favour of the second motion – said the situation with Wesley Street has eroded trust.

“That’s a lot of faith … to say, we know it’s not going well down there and look, we’re going to do it again over here, and by the way, we don’t have extra resources to devote to it and we don’t know what that’s going to look like for our police force,” she said.

That was one of several concerns expressed by Coun. Sheryl Armstrong.

“We have to go back to almost 100,000 people and tell them why,” Armstrong said, addressing Dr. Paul Hasselback, Island Health’s chief medical officer for central Vancouver Island. “When they are dealing with what you say may be misconceptions, but when you hear from your chief of police that … crime did go up 200 per cent, who are they going to believe?”

Mayor Leonard Krog said the public expects an opportunity to be heard, and Coun. Ian Thorpe, too, argued for city council to retain “site-specific control” over supervised consumption applications.

“The citizens of this community need to trust this council to do what it can to protect their best interests – not one group of citizens who may suffer serious health challenges, but the safety of our communities,” Thorpe said.

The motion for council to retain decision-making around safe-consumption sites was defeated on a tie vote, with councillors Turley, Don Bonner, Brown and Geselbracht opposed. The motion to define supervised consumption as a health service passed with councillors Thorpe and Armstrong and Mayor Krog opposed. Coun. Zeni Maartman was absent.

Though supervised consumption will no longer have to go to public hearing, Health Canada will have an expectation that some form of community consultation takes place and that concerns are addressed, noted a city staff report.

Hasselback said it would be the health authority’s decision, not his decision personally, to now apply again for a supervised consumption site. He said even though overdose deaths might be slowing, supervised consumption is something Nanaimo will need over the long term.

“I’m hopeful and I will remain hopeful that we might actually get through this crisis,” he said. “What I’m not hopeful of is that we’re not going to have substance use problems afterwards that are going to need supervised consumption and ongoing services.”



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

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo/submitted)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Government’s inaction has led to old-fashioned ‘war in the woods’

How can we still be debating the value of old-growth forests in 2021, asks letter writer

The City of Nanaimo’s finance and audit committee has recommended spending $200,000 from reserves on a feasibility study and conceptual designs for a community centre in the south end. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo will study options for south-end community centre

Finance committee recommends spending $200,000 from reserves for feasibility study and concept plans

First responders on scene at Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School south of Nanaimo on Thursday afternoon. (Karl Yu/The News Bulletin)
One child airlifted after quad accident at Nanaimo district school

First responders called to Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School at around 3:30 p.m.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

B.C. Centre for Disease Control reports 65 new cases in Oceanside health area April 4-10

The Nanaimo Clippers’ game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs slated for Thursday, April 15, has been postponed due to a “potential positive COVID-19 test result,” says the BCHL. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Clippers’ game postponed due to ‘potential positive’ COVID-19 test

Junior A hockey team suspends activities, players isolating pending further test results

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

Beef to the beefers. Please season your beefs. We require a little more spice in our Wednesday-morning work beef huddle.
Beefs & Bouquets, April 14

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

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada’s incoming supply of Moderna vaccine slashed in half through end of April

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
P.1 variant likely highest in B.C. due to more testing for it: Dr. Henry

Overall, just under 60% of new daily cases in the province involve variants

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Officers surround building as homeowner held in apartment for nearly four hours by adult son

Most Read