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HomeNewsNelson’s public nuisance bylaw to take effect immediately

Nelson’s public nuisance bylaw to take effect immediately

A special meeting Tuesday morning saw Nelson city councilors voting 4-3 in favor of adopting a bylaw that prohibits the use of drugs at 12 locations frequented by children.  

Councilors Leslie Payne and Keith Page held their positions against the bylaw through all three of its readings.  

Councilor Jessie Pineiro also voted against it during the first two readings but was not present for its third.  

Pineiro, Payne and Page all feel that a broader solution is necessary, with Paige and Pineiro saying the bylaw is ineffective without proper harm reduction and recovery resources accessible in the region.  

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“If we do something as a city, we should always try to deal with the problem and I’m not sure that this does that,” Pineiro said  

“Anybody that I’ve seen in the grips of fentanyl addiction in any setting isn’t thinking too much about whether it’s legal or not. Any sort of solution that we put forward that doesn’t address the reasons why people are addicted to drugs, I think has a very good chance of being ineffective.” He urged council to consider an encompassing approach that deals with the root issues that influence mental health and substance abuse disorders and suggested asking the province for additional funding to Nelson’s street outreach team, speeding up the process to offer a safe inhalation site, and adjusting short term rental bylaws to ensure all residents have a home.  

“Most people already don’t do drugs in parks. They do them on Baker Street. We have an opportunity to put forward the best solution that we physically can. Something that speaks to the nuisance and addiction parts of the situation and why people are doing drugs in public.” 

Page agreed with Pineiro’s suggestion for an all-encompassing approach and said he’d like to see council clarify what steps they have already taken to advocate to higher levels of government the urgency for resources in our region rather than implement a bylaw that risks driving users underground.   

“It seems to be such a pressing issue that we need to have more dedicated resources,” Page said 

“This problem of poverty and substance abuse was with us before, and it will be with us for a long time. It’s a feature of any successful community, so I hope we can work on that over the coming months and weeks, to be able even to report back to the community in a way that they can see and point how we’re moving this forward.” 

City manager Kevin Cormack responded to Paige by saying that providing broader solutions isn’t the city’s responsibility, it’s that of Interior Health and the provincial government.  

Cormack said that they’ve asked both authorities when a regional solution to the crisis will be rolled out, but neither party has yet provided a response or course of action.  

“We need to continually ask where they’re fulfilling and where they’re not fulfilling their mandates,” Cormack said. “We have asked, ‘what is your strategy in our region for recovery services?’ They say ‘we don’t have one.’ They are the experts in mental health and addiction we are not. They’ve declared this a health emergency, and they have no clear strategy of how they plan to address it. They should be reaching out to us, telling us their strategies rather than criticizing us for trying to find community solutions.”  

Mayor Janice Morrison said it’s hard to “put all the things in one bag for purchase at one time,” but insists the city will continue to work towards appropriate solutions that benefit all community members affected by the toxic drug crisis.  

The bylaw takes effect immediately.  


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