Pubdate: Wed, 11 Sep 2002
Source: Prince Rupert Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Sterling Newspapers Ltd.


Vandalism and drugs are worrying city council, but police admit they have 
few new weapons.

Councillor Kathy Bedard called the cost of vandalism in Prince Rupert 
abhorrent. "The community can't afford this."

Council Cyril Stephens wanted to know how big the drug scene is here. "How 
many young people are overdosing?"

RCMP Staff Sergeant Troy Gross said the dollar figure attributed to 
vandalism to both public and private property is holding constant at about 
$8000. (In July it was $8,.575.)

He said restorative justice programs, where the offender pays restitution 
and might be ordered to do repair or make reparation in some other way, is 
the most efficient approach.

"We have a fairly active system" he said, "but it hasn1t really impacted 
the financial figures here."

"We do have a considerable drug problem, but it is probably not worse than 
in other coastal communities."

RCMP were often unable to report publicly on drug overdoses because of 
privacy issues surrounding medical records.

Councillor Bedard had another concern around drugs - the recent Senate 
Committee report which recommended legalization for simple possession of 
marijuana, basically treating the drug like alcohol or tobacco.

She said she had personally written to the prime Minister and other Ottawa 

"I pleaded that they not adopt the report. It is reprehensible to suggest 
we legalize marijuana because we are supposedly helpless to to anything else."

She called the idea of regulating and licensing marijuana sales "another 
money scheme." She said she did not think the majority of Canadian 
supported legalization.

"I think this community knows we have a problem, Canada has a problem. We 
can1t just throw our hands up."

Coun. Paul Kennedy said the current fines for trafficking large amounts of 
marijuana are a few thousand dollars, -"ridiculous"- and simply seen as a 
cost of doing business.

"We have to get more serious."

Councillor Paddy Greene chided the Americans, - the big export market for 
the drug - for preferring our pot to our timber.

"They'd rather have B.C. bud than B.C. softwood. They have not been very 
good neighbours."

But, he said, he didn't want to see large numbers jailed for possession, or 
run through an inefficient court system.

"It's a huge waste of time ... jailing a bunch of people. I don't want to 
see us doing  it like they do in the United States."

There were other serious drug-related issues to be tackled like gasoline 
sniffing and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Mayor Don Scott said the Senate report should be taken seriously. "We 
should examine why they are recommending it."

Staff Sgt Gross said the RCMP, as a police force,  are opposed to legalization.

Coun. Bedard got support for a motion that a letter opposing legalization 
go to the Prime Minister and other communities.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens