LOADING...
11Jun

City council expected to debate policy preventing legal weed sales in DTES

by admin

The debate on a motion proposing easier access for opioid alternatives in the city’s Downtown Eastside is expected to begin again Wednesday, when Vancouver city council meets to discuss policy and strategic priorities.

Submitted by Coun. Rebecca Bligh in late May, the motion titled “Cannabis as an Alternative to Opiates and More Dangerous Drugs on the Downtown Eastside” proposes amending an almost four-year-old exclusion zone keeping medical marijuana from being sold to one of the city’s most vulnerable communities.

“What I’m asking is well-considered exceptions to that rule, and that city staff come back and make recommendations to council,” Bligh told CTV News Vancouver in an interview Tuesday.

Vancouver’s city council approved a restrictive licensing regulation for “medical-cannabis” dispensaries in the Downtown Eastside in 2015, prohibiting marijuana sales on any properties that do not have a property line on either Hastings or Main streets.

In her motion, Bligh suggests the idea behind this exclusion zone was to limit the amount of cannabis being sold to a significantly vulnerable subset of the population. This decision was made before the opioid crisis set in however, and since April 2016, the councillor says more than 3,600 people have died in B.C. due to overdose, including 1,000 people in Vancouver alone.

“I don’t propose this is the right time to simply dismiss the exclusionary zoning, even though studies show in North America exclusionary zoning … it’s just not the best way to go about city planning,” said Bligh.

The councillor cites a study by University of British Columbia cannabis science specialist Dr. M-J Milloy, which showed hard drug users respond better to marijuana than opioid substitution treatment plans.

“We’re hearing form frontline workers and they’re dealing day to day with what’s happening in the Downtown Eastside, and I’ve heard from countless people that this is absolutely something we need to be taking proactive action on,” she said.

As it stands, there are four locations in the DTES with approved Development Permits from the city. Bligh contends, however, that in order to move forward with the mandatory provincial licensing application phase, they would need to shut down with no guarantee they’d be able to re-open. 

The councillor says the city should acknowledge the research done and funded by UBC and Simon Fraser University to ensure policies aren’t restricting a “progressive program” that could help people in the Downtown Eastside.

Referring to Milloy’s research, Bligh says shutting down those shops in the Downtown Eastside would limit people’s ability to access affordable legal marijuana, which could result in them turning back to opioids.

She adds that before the legalization process took hold,  a medicinal cannabis shop was able to sell at prices between three and six dollars per gram, which she says is affordable for people on disability or social assistance programs.

“As the recreational use of cannabis and the licensing that goes with that comes into effect, so does management of the supply chain, and management of the margins,” said Bligh. “Now we’re looking at these shops opening up and their market value for cannabis is now $12-15 per gram, which is totally unaffordable for people on limited income.”

This could effectively rob DTES residents and drug users of access to retail cannabis for the foreseeable future, the councillor claims.

The motion argues that both the Vancouver Overdose Prevention Society and High Hopes Social Enterprise, a DTES support and sustainability organization, support low-cost, legal cannabis options backed by Dr. Evan Wood, the executive director of the BC Centre on Substance Use, as well as Dr. Mark Tyndall, Executive Medical Director for BC Centre for Disease Control, and Dr. M-J Milloy.

Bligh said she believes the city and Vancouver Coastal Health have an opportunity to good for a large group of people working together, however admitted it could be difficult for the health organization to endorse a motion that affects a smaller, yet high-need group of the population.

“Evidence is leaning towards this as a viable recommendaiton and option towards harm reduction, but this would be far too soon for Coastal Health to eb able to bless that, and we deeply respect the work they do,” the councillor said.


Source link

11Jun

People facing homelessness to get local support from grants

by admin

People facing homelessness will receive help through grants that support strong, sustainable planning for local groups and organizations working on the front lines in British Columbia communities.

The Province is granting $6 million to the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) for a Homelessness Community Action Grant to help groups address homelessness in their towns and cities. The grants will also support organizations with a provincewide focus to explore better ways of meeting the needs of particular groups of people that have a higher risk of experiencing homelessness.

“Preventing homelessness is a critical part of TogetherBC: BC’s Poverty Reduction Strategy,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Through these grants, we will build partnerships with local organizations and help people facing homelessness to prevent it from happening in the first place.”

SPARC BC will distribute the Homelessness Community Action Grants to groups and organizations over the next three years as a one-time grant to successful applicants. The chosen projects will build on local resources and knowledge about homelessness and its causes, increase public awareness and support, and respond to gaps in services for people experiencing homelessness. 

“Local organizations and non-profits are at the front lines of the homelessness crisis, and they have been doing great work creating partnerships to address homelessness at a local level,” said Lorraine Copas, executive director, SPARC BC. “This grant will support the sustainability of the work as they continue to make positive change.”

Through the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, the Province is investing $291 million to build 2,000 homes throughout B.C. and providing annual operating funding to provide 24/7 staffing and support services. Nearly 1,400 of the homes are complete.

“Homelessness touches virtually every corner of our province and affects at least 8,000 individuals on any given night of the year,” said Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association. “Combined with the historic investments in affordable housing now rolling out and a rapid response to homelessness through new supportive housing, this additional $6-million investment has the potential to help communities co-ordinate their supports for people experiencing homelessness.” 

TogetherBC, the province’s first poverty reduction strategy, was released in early 2019 and included a newly created Homelessness Coordination Office that will work with partners across government and in the community to deliver a co-ordinated and proactive response to homelessness.

“Homelessness is a complex issue that requires many solutions. The issues people face are different across communities and demographics,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Reduction. “We can only prevent homelessness by working together. This grant supports communities and organizations on the ground who are dedicated to finding local solutions to preventing poverty.”

Addressing poverty is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Quick Facts:

  • The Homelessness Action Grant application form will soon be available on the SPARC BC website.
  • TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, was released in March 2019 as a roadmap to reduce overall poverty by 25% and cut child poverty in half over five years.
  • Through the Building BC program, the Province works in partnership to build homes for people individuals and families, seniors, students, women and children leaving violence, Indigenous peoples and people experiencing homelessness.
  • More than 20,000 new homes are completed, under construction or in the approvals process in communities throughout B.C. as part of a $7-billion investment over 10 years in housing affordability.

Learn More:

Find out more about SPARC BC: https://www.sparc.bc.ca/

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy:
ttps://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/initiatives-plans-strategies/poverty-reduction-strategy/togetherbc.pdf

Homes for B.C., a 30-point Plan for Housing Affordability in British Columbia:
https://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_homes_for_bc.pdf

Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program:
https://www.bchousing.org/partner-services/Building-BC/rapid-response-homelessness

A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online:
https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC


Source link

This website uses cookies and asks your personal data to enhance your browsing experience.