Vancouver Mayor thanks Council for unanimous approval of decriminalization motion

VANCOUVER Mayor Kennedy Stewart on Wednesday issued the following statement after Vancouver City Council unanimously agreed to formally request the federal government to decriminalize simple possession of all illicit drugs in Vancouver:

“I am grateful to Council for [unanimously] passing this important motion and setting Vancouver on a path to fully embracing a health-focussed approach to substance use in the City of Vancouver by decriminalizing simple possession of all illicit drugs.

“But more importantly, I would like to thank all of the hardworking advocates and organizations that have been pushing for this for years. Groups like PIVOT Legal Society, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, the Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, PHS Community Services Society, and countless others.

“On the same day that the BC Coroners Service confirmed that a person-a-day continues to die in our city due to drug overdose, Vancouver has once again decided to lead the way on drug policy in order to save lives.

“If approved by the federal government, we will begin a robust process to determine how decriminalization will be implemented in Vancouver. This process will involve the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Coastal Health, the Vancouver Police Department, community groups and advocates, as well as people with lived experience.

“With more than 1,500 deaths in Vancouver since a provincial overdose emergency was declared in April 2016, and an estimated 329 overdose deaths in the City of Vancouver so far this year, 2020 is on track to be the worst year yet for overdoses and this new approach is urgently needed.”