The provincial government has proposed new legislation that sets more boundaries for where people can openly use drugs in B.C.
If passed, the legislation would ban drug use in “recreation-focused” places, such as parks and bus stops.
Specifically, the new rules would ban public drug use within these spaces:
- A six-metre (19 feet) radius from building entrances, including businesses and residential buildings
- Within six metres of a bus stop
- Within 15 metres (49 feet) of playgrounds, spray and wading pools, and skate parks
- At parks, beaches and sports fields
The pilot program launched on Jan. 21, 2023, and since then concerns have been raised about the use of drugs near parks and schools.
“The provincial government has heard the concerns from people and municipalities on the use of illegal drugs in public spaces,” said Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto in a release Thursday.
“This new law will help keep communities safer for everyone while more and more supportive services are offered across B.C.”
The province said the new rules would align more with public smoking and drinking laws.
If people are using drugs within the banned spaces, police would also be able to move them to a supervised consumption site or arrest them, through the proposed legislation.
Local government changes
The province says the new legislation will also outline what local governments can do with bylaws related to drug use.
Under the new legislation, municipalities must first consult with a medical health officer before they can set any bylaws related to illegal drug consumption in public.
Some municipalities had previously passed bylaws about open drug use through “nuisance” bylaws or other means.
“British Columbians overwhelmingly agree addiction is a health matter. At the same time, they’re also concerned about open drug use in public spaces, especially near where kids play,” said B.C. Premier David Eby.
“That’s why we’re taking this critical step similar to how we regulate smoking or alcohol use in public, to help people feel safer in their communities, and ensure people who use drugs can be connected to safer and more appropriate spaces with the services they need,” he said.
The proposed legislation will see its first reading on Thursday.