B.C. secures measures to ensure safe public spaces for families

Photo from flickr.com

To help ensure kids and families feel safe in their communities, the B.C. provincial government has received approval from the federal government to prohibit the possession of illegal drugs at playgrounds, spray pools, wading pools and skate parks.

Effective Monday, September 18, 2023, possession of illicit drugs within 15 metres of any play structure in a playground, a spray or wading pool, or a skate park will be prohibited.

B.C. had made a request to Health Canada for an amendment to the decriminalization policy to add these spaces to existing exclusions on possession, including on the premises of K-12 schools and licensed child care facilities.

The federal minister of mental health and addictions and associate minister of health has approved B.C.’s request.

With this amendment, police officers may enforce the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act when individuals are found to be in possession of illegal drugs in these child-focused spaces. Intoxication remains illegal in all public places.

The Province has also recently completed consultations on public drug use with key stakeholders, and is planning to introduce provincial legislation to further regulate public drug use this fall.

Decriminalization is just one tool in the Province’s toolbox in the fight against the toxic drug crisis.

The B.C. government is working to build an integrated system of mental-health and addictions care that works for everyone. This includes adding hundreds of new treatment beds, expanding services for youth, and increasing access to programs that reduce harm and help keep people safe, such as drug-checking measures.

In May 2022, the federal government approved B.C.’s exemption request under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act so that adults (18 and older) are not subject to criminal penalties if found in possession of up to 2.5 grams of certain illegal drugs for personal use from January 31, 2023 to January 30, 2026.

Instead, they are offered information about local health and social services, as well as local treatment and recovery options, if requested.