The Village of Cumberland office. Comox Valley Record file photo

The Village of Cumberland office. Comox Valley Record file photo

Cumberland council shows support for decriminalization of drugs

Council responded to a recent request from Comox Valley couple who lost son

The Village of Cumberland council supported a motion to pressure senior levels of government to do more to tackle the opioid crisis at the Jan. 13 meeting.

They were revisiting a matter from a meeting in December. At the time, a local couple, Jennifer and John Hedican, appeared before council to ask for support. The Hedicans want the provincial and federal government to address the toxic drug supply poisoning people in the Comox Valley and beyond, as well as work toward the decriminalization of drugs. The Hedicans lost their son Ryan in 2017, and in their letter, they pointed out 55 Comox Valley residents had died preventable deaths due to a toxic drug supply since 2016. The couple had also appeared before other local councils in recent months.

RELATED STORY: Courtenay couple holds senior governments accountable for drug crisis

Coun. Jesse Ketler referred to a motion passed at the regional district for council’s consideration.

“It’s basically dealing with having a safe drug supply, so that people don’t have to rely on a toxic drug supply,” she said.

She added part of the motion deal with having safe sites to reduce the risk. The wording addressed to the Province, and she acknowledged the request from the Hedicans included the federal government. In response, Coun. Vickey Brown made a motion for council to support the decriminalization of drugs and the creation of a regulated, safe drug supply through a letter to the federal government.

Mayor Leslie Baird added that this issue typically comes up at the mayors’ caucus at the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities meeting.

“This is a topic that is talked about,” she said.

She also referred to recent presentations at UBCM from the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and the provincial health officer showing support for the idea. Cumberland’s council unanimously passed the motion.

Secondary suites update

Manager of Development Services Ken Rogers updated Cumberland council about changes to the BC Building Code that permit secondary suites in more types of housing. Last month, the Province removed barriers for secondary suites. The changes include discontinuing prescribed floor space amounts and percentage distribution as well as allowing suites in side-by-side duplexes, row housing and buildings that have occupancy other than residential.

Rogers clarified the Village would need to change the current bylaw if it wants to take the changes into account.

“Just to be clear, our bylaw stands until we wish to amend,” he said.

He added staff will be looking at how these changes could be incorporated into Cumberland’s current zoning bylaw. He urged caution and cited examples of potential problems associated with introducing suites into structures such as duplexes because of neighbourhood density issues. For example, street parking can become harder to find as density in a neighbourhood increases. He referred to one street in Dawson Creek that faced such problems.

“Parking was like a Tetris game,” he said.

Cumberland staff will now bring forward a report to council on how to address the building code changes.

Island Food Charter request

Council is holding off for now on moving ahead with support for a charter about community food security.

LUSH Valley Food Action Society has asked local councils to adopt an Island Food Charter for their communities.

At the Jan. 13 meeting, the recommendation from Village staff was that they consider the charter during a planned update of the official community plan (OCP) in 2021. Coun. Vickey Brown wondered why council should not proceed with the charter at this time.

Manager of Development Services Ken Rogers explained there were a number of issues the Village should consider before signing a charter, which implies certain rights and authority. He explained that, in contrast, OCPs do not commit a municipality to proceed with any project in the plan.

“A charter is slightly different than that,” he said. “Once you sign, there is a commitment.”

Rogers cited a section in the charter talking about livable incomes for people working in food production, explaining the Village should investigate certain clauses further to determine the commitment this could mean for local government.

“That’s just my cautionary note,” he added.

Mayor Leslie Baird suggested council follow staff advice concerning the Island Food Charter.

“Although I agree with the concept, I … think we really need to know what we’re getting into,” she said.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

On average, the Comox Station receives 60 call outs per year. Photo by RCM-SAR member Chris Beech, Media.
BOATING WITH BARB: Victoria JRCC and RCM-SAR Station 60 Comox work together to save lives

Barb Thomson Special to The Record Just imagine you wander down to… Continue reading

A Courtenay resident labours to remove the snow build-up from around her car in February 2019. The area may see snow throughout the coming weekend. Black Press file photo
Snow, winter not done with the Comox Valley quite yet

Flurries, snow and cold temps predicted for the weekend

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

This spring will be a time of transition for Island Voices chamber… Continue reading

From left—Rev. Ryan Slifka (minister, St. George’s); Ellen Wise (elder, St. George’s); Evangeline Mathura, (vice-president, Dawn to Dawn); Grant Shilling (outreach worker, Dawn to Dawn), with a cheque for $10,433.15.
Courtenay church donates more than $10,000 to transitional housing and support service

St. Goerge’s presents Dawn to Dawn with $10,433.15 cheque

A pine siskin is treated for salmonella poisoning at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) hospital, in Merville. Photo by Gylaine Anderston.
Salmonella poisoning in birds and pets a result of unclean bird feeders

Have you ever endured a bout of food poisoning? If you remember… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. turns to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supplies slow

Pfizer shipments down until February, to be made up in March

B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced funding to train community mental health workers at four B.C. post-secondary institutions. (Stock photo)
B.C. funding training of mental health workers at four post-secondary institutions

Provincial government says pandemic has intensified need for mental health supports

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19

Egg producers in B.C. aren’t obligated to reveal their production sites. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Officials say there’s not enough Vancouver Island eggs to meet demand

BC Egg Marketing Board doesn’t regulate labelling, supply needed from off-Island

Most Read