Posts Tagged "debate"


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

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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.

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Lawyer sparks workplace discrimination debate over Kamloops’ new Teenie Bikini Bistro | CBC News

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The recent opening of the Teenie Bikini Bistro in Kamloops, B.C., has an employment lawyer concerned about workplace discrimination but the restaurant’s co-owner maintains it’s nothing to worry about.

The bistro features pub-style food served by women wearing bikinis. Kelowna lawyer David Brown with Kent Employment Law says it’s disconcerting.

“I was surprised that this continues to be prevalent in this day and age … I kind of started thinking about the legal implications of this kind of a business plan,” Brown told Chris Walker, host of Daybreak South.

Hiring process 

Brown cites the B.C. Human Rights Code, which prevents discrimination in the workplace on a number of different grounds including gender, sexual orientation and disability. He is concerned that the Teenie Bikini Bistro’s hiring practices may be discriminatory toward men, older workers or workers with disabilities, among others.

Bistro co-owner Leeann Mcarthur says it’s simply not the case. She says she has no specific hiring process, nor is it mandatory that those applying look a certain way or even be female. 

“We have all shapes and sizes here. Most of us have stretch marks,” said Mcarthur.

“I’ve got four kids. I’ve got stretch marks. I’m wearing a bikini right now. And you know, I’m confident enough to do it and it doesn’t bother me.”

While Mcarthur has not had any men apply for serving positions at the restaurant yet, she says that as with women, she would hire men if they applied and were solid candidates.

Brown says that legally, imposing a dress code which has the potential to violate or create a different working environment on either the worker or on those workers who don’t conform to that model is problematic. 

But Mcarthur says she doesn’t force her waitresses to wear bikinis. They can work in whatever attire they choose.

“If the girl is confident enough, I don’t care what she looks like. If she’s willing to wear a bathing suit or bikini or she’s comfortable in shorts … whatever she’s comfortable in, wear it.”

Sexual harassment 

Brown says that while the women who work at places like Teenie Bikini Bistro may consent to wearing a bikini, they do not necessarily consent to some of the sexual harassment that might happen within the workplace such as crude jokes, unwanted touching or catcalls.

“It raises concerns about challenges toward the women who are serving the floors,” said Brown.

Mcarthur says sexual harassment is an unfortunate reality of the restaurant industry in general.

“You get that no matter what kind of job you’re working,” she said. “Honestly, I think the men are a little more cautious here,” she said of the restaurant’s patrons. 

Health and safety

Brown also has concerns surrounding health and safety in the workplace.

“Are these servers going to be safe serving hot foods? … there’s a potential here for a personal injury by burning on their midriff or something like that,” said Brown.

For Mcarthur, the Teenie Bikini Bistro is no different then much larger businesses such as sports or cocktail bars.

“The lounges I’ve been to in Kamloops, those girls are pretty much wearing next to nothing. Are they safe serving hot food?” Mcarthur said, explaining that opening her restaurant was a smooth process.

“With health and safety, if it wasn’t OK, we wouldn’t have gotten our licence.”

Listen to the full interview with David Brown here

A new restaurant in Kamloops has caught the eye of a Kelowna employment lawyer, who says the business’s hiring practices and dress code could be considered discriminatory and increase the potential for sexual harassment. 6:00

With files by Daybreak South

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