UBCM seeks intervenor status for injunction application related to public consumption

Publishing Date

The Union of B.C. Municipalities intends to apply to the B.C. Supreme Court for intervenor status in a lawsuit brought against the Province of B.C. by the Harm Reduction Nurses Association challenging the legality of the Province’s Restricting Public Consumption of Illegal Substances Act.

The act, which received Royal Assent in November 2023 but which has not yet been brought into force, bans the use of illicit drugs in certain public and recreation-focused spaces including:

  • a six-metre radius from building entrances, including businesses and residential buildings;
  • within six metres of a bus stop;
  • within 15 metres of playgrounds, spray and wading pools, and skate parks; and
  • at parks, beaches and sports fields.

The Province of B.C. introduced the legislation in response to concerns expressed by local governments and the public with the limits set for the possession and public consumption of illicit drugs provided in Health Canada’s 2023 exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that enabled a decriminalization trial period in British Columbia.

“As the province seeks a better approach to the illicit drug crisis in British Columbia, there is a need to balance the health and safety needs of those who use drugs with the needs of the broader community,” said Councillor Trish Mandewo, president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities. “The restrictions provided in the province’s legislation address critical gaps in the initial decriminalization exemption, and local governments look forward to seeing it come into force.”

B.C.’s local governments endorsed a resolution at UBCM’s 2023 annual convention calling for the province to further regulate the possession and use of illicit drugs in parks, beaches, sports fields and bus stops where children also gather.

In late December, the Harm Reduction Nurses Association successfully obtained a short-term injunction from the B.C. Supreme Court which prevents the legislation from coming into force any sooner than March 31, 2024.