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Grand Forks will define places for prohibited drug use

A bylaw will come to Grand Forks city council in two weeks to set places and penalties for public drug use.

City council agreed Monday to direct staff to bring the bylaw to the June 12 council meeting for its first three readings.

The law is responding to the B.C. government’s three year pilot project to decriminalize small amounts of drugs.

Coun. Christine Thompson, a member of the Grand Forks Community Action Team (CAT), says the law is sympathetic to addicts as it still allows public use.

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“We all don’t know the stories as to why people have gone down this road…Nobody wakes up one morning and says ‘I think I’m going to be a drug addict.’ It happens and it’s unfortunate and I’m very supportive of getting those people the help that they need,” Thompson said.

The draft law sets areas for prohibited use. The include:

  • Within 30 meters of a public park, school or playground and within a vehicle at these locations
  • Within 10 meters from another person in a public space unless they consent and within 30 meters of a minor
  • On public sidewalks
  • The downtown commercial core along Market Avenue from Riverside Drive to 5th Street, with the exception of private parking lots and alleyways
  • Within 10 meters of an entrance to a business, bank, apartment building or house other than the house of the person consuming drugs

Coun. Neil Krog believes the city’s bylaw is well crafted and should not be legally challenged.

“I haven’t seen one like that from other communities where it’s just, no you can’t. We’re saying, yeah you can, but not if this exists. So I think that’s what makes this one unique,” he said.

The bylaw also sets out penalties, which would see fines from $500 to $10,000.

Asked by Coun. David Mark how city bylaw or police would get “blood from a stone,” CAO Duncan Redfearn said the city works closely with RCMP and will focus on banning somebody from an area for repeated violations instead of fines.

The first three readings of the bylaw will happen at the June 12th council meeting.

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