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Posts Tagged "path"

14Sep

Former Port Alberni mayor pushes for drug decriminalization as path to treatment

by admin

https://vancouversun.com/


John Douglas, special projects co-ordinator for the Port Alberni Shelter Society and a former mayor and councillor for the city. [PNG Merlin Archive]


Submitted: John Douglas / PNG

The former mayor of Port Alberni has released a report in which he supports calls for drug decriminalization in order to protect British Columbians from overdoses and other related harm, and help them find appropriate treatment.

John Douglas, who was a paramedic for 23 years, wrote “Working Towards a Solution: Resolving the Case between Crime and Addiction” following an information-gathering trip to Portugal, and recently released it to the media.

Douglas, now special projects co-ordinator for the Port Alberni Shelter Society, explained Thursday that the paper is not a scientific analysis, but rather a “from-my-gut” exploration of what he has learned while working in the fields of social housing, mental health, poverty and addiction.

He calls for the province to engage doctors, lawyers and police, as well as the public, to make addiction and possession of addictive substances solely a health issue, under healthy ministry jurisdiction. He wants the government to develop a supply model for addictive drugs to eliminate health problems associated with contaminated street drugs.

More than 4,300 people have died of an illicit-drug overdose in B.C. since the provincial government declared a public health emergency in April, 2016. Fentanyl was detected in most cases.

Douglas recommends the development of long-term, affordable and flexible treatment communities and “health teams” to provide services. He asks the province to tell the federal government “politely and firmly” that it intends to move forward with a pilot program which is open to federal participation.

“I’ve been a politician myself — no higher than a municipal level — but I find political people, as well-meaning as they are, tend to lag behind movements, sometimes, in society,” Douglas said. “I’ve talked to so many people in the health, enforcement and legal fields that all agree (addiction) should be treated as a health issue, but the political end is lagging behind because they’re afraid of losing votes or saying the wrong thing and offending somebody.”

Douglas entered politics in 2008 as a councillor in Port Alberni and served as mayor from 2011 to 2014. After the fentanyl-related overdose crisis emerged, he helped bring a sobering centre and overdose prevention and inhalation sites to the city.

His decades of experience in health care and helping people who have addictions helped him come to the conclusion that people with addictions should be in health care, not the criminal justice system.

Earlier this year, he attended a forum in Portugal where he learned about the country’s approach to addiction and overdoses. In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drugs for personal use in response to a surge in heroin use.

“With the shelter, we’re working toward researching models of therapeutic communities that could work for treatment, if and when we can get the government to start moving in the direction of decriminalization and the direction of adequate treatment for people with addictions, instead of these pathetic 30- to 60-day treatment programs that are commonplace over here,” Douglas said.

Decriminalization would apply to all drugs — even heroin and methamphetamine — but falls short of legalization, which removes prohibitions but also develops regulations for the production, sale and use of a substance (Canada’s approach to cannabis is an example).

In a special report released last April, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry urged the B.C. government to implement decriminalization for simple possession for personal use.

Henry said B.C. could use its powers under the Police Act to allow the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor-General to set broad provincial priorities with respect to people who use drugs. Or it could enact a regulation under the act to prevent police from using resources to enforce against simple possession offences under the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Solicitor-General Mike Farnworth shot down Henry’s proposal, saying laws around the possession of controlled substances remain federal and “no provincial action can change that.”

Douglas sides with Henry on the issue.

“I wanted to be an additional voice to echo those findings,” he said. “I agree wholeheartedly with her. We don’t have to wait for the federal government to do this.”

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29Sep

Walk in the park or road to ruin? New path in Kamloops park raises local concerns

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Some Kamloops residents are raising issues about a new $3.7-million multi-use pathway which connects a city park to a neighbourhood southwest of the downtown.

One concerned resident, Carman-Anne Schulz, describes parks as her passion and thinks the project is, overall, a good idea. However, she thinks the 1.7-kilometre walking and cycling path as built is too wide and takes up too much space of what she calls a pristine park.

She also thinks it will be too difficult for many people to use because of steep grades.

“One of the selling factors for the trail was a mother could put one of those bikes on the trail that could carry their children and could cycle up and down that trail,” Schulz told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce.

“I’m a very strong cyclist, I’m 61, and I have to work hard. I have to back-and-forth a bit in my best hill-climbing gear… I’ve tried it.”

The path is in Peterson Creek Park and connects downtown Kamloops to the Sahali neighbourhood.

Carman-Anne Schulz says there are some problems with the soon-to-open cycling and walking path. (Shelley Joyce/CBC)

Schulz is also critical of the city for going $350,000 over the path’s original $3.35 million budget and is also concerned the park is too close to a marsh that she says is leaking water into retaining walls.

City believes project will be embraced

But officials with the City of Kamloops are defending their work on the project.

Liam Baker, the project’s manager, said the park’s larger footprint is for safety purposes: engineers, he explained, wanted cyclists and pedestrians to feel they had enough space to safely enjoy it.

“I think everyone will understand that it’s a really positive project once they get up here and walk it and bike it,” Baker said.

“Once they see how many people are using it and how much more access it grants to the whole parkland area, I think it’ll be really heavily used and appreciated.”

As for the budget overruns, Baker said those weren’t “too far out of line” for a project of this size. Council approved the extra spending, he added.

He admits the cycling grades could be considered a little steep but engineers had to contend with the existing topography of the park.

He believes water leaking issues have been sorted out but groundwater will be monitored.

The pathway is officially opens at the end of October.

Listen to the full story:

Some Kamloops residents are not happy about a new 1.7-kilometre, $3.7-million multi-use pathway in Peterson Creek Park connecting downtown to the Sahali neighbourhood. They are raising environmental, safety and accessibility concerns. 13:28

With files from CBC Radio One’s Daybreak Kamloops


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