At Monday’s Council meeting the issue of harm reduction strategies took centre stage, bringing out strong feelings on both sides of the issue.
Currently the City has a bylaw banning harm reduction strategies like needle exchanges.
Brian Gross from the Supporting Wellness and Reducing Harm Committee gave an impassioned speech.
“Harm reduction acknowledges that rubbing someone’s nose in their weaknesses does not make them stronger. Harm reduction introduces positive change into people’s lives. Every time an injection drug user unwraps a clean rig, they have an opportunity to think about why.”
Meanwhile Chuck Doucette from the Drug Prevention Network of Canada had different thoughts.
Doucette says a lot of the strategies don’t reduce harm, but rather prolong the misery caused by addiction.
He also says properly funded prevention and abstinence programs are the way to go.
Fraser Health presented a plan to bring in needle collection initiatives and needle exchange sites.
However mayor Bruce Banman says Fraser Health didn’t bring enough to the table.
“It’s fine for Fraser Health to ask us to re-look at this, but to not offer a detox centre as part of the solution…that just doesn’t wash with me. They need to be part of the solution, and we need a detox centre in this city if it’s that important to them to have this reduction.”
Council will seek more public consultation before deciding what they want to do with the bylaw.