Decriminalization & Public Parks

Posted On: May 09, 2024

Tags: Business , Discover , Featured , Live Here , Your Municipality

May 8, 2024 Update: Federal government approves decriminalization changes

The federal government has approved the Province of BC’s request to further control consumption of illicit drugs in public spaces. The change took place immediately as of May 7, 2024. Possession of small amounts of illicit drugs is still permitted. Learn more!

November 9, 2023 Update:

Bill 34 Restricting Public Consumption of Illegal Substances Act received Royal Assent on November 9, 2023. 

November 7, 2023 Update:

In October, Bill 34 Restricting Public Consumption of Illegal Substances Act was introduced in the legislature to tighten the rules around the use of illegal substances in public spaces. The Province shares that "These restrictions would align more closely with rules around tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use and provide a consistent approach throughout the province." 

If the bill passes, illicit drug use will be prohibited:

  • 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 new legislation will also provide tools for police officers, allowing them to direct anyone using illegal drugs in a public area to move to another location deemed appropriate. If there isn't compliance, the officer would be authorized to destroy the drugs and take enforcement measures.

News Release: B.C. takes critical step to address public use of illegal drugs

Updated Oct. 5, 2023

November 2, 2023 Update:

Following advocacy by many local governments, British Columbia's controlled substance possession exemption has been restricted to prohibit the possession of controlled substances from child-focused spaces.

On September 18, 2023, the possession of illicit drugs within 15 metres of playground play structures, spray parks or wading pools an skate parks was prohibited.

News Release: B.C. secures measures to ensure families feel safe accessing public spaces

July 20, 2023 Update:

Council recently amended the Parks Regulation Bylaw to prohibit the public consumption of decriminalized illicit drugs in the following park spaces.

  • River Front Nature Trail Park
  • Sicamous Beach Park
  • Finlayson Park
  • Shuswap Avenue Park
  • All designated Children's Play Areas
  • Beach Area, Tecumseh Road
  • Sicamous Dog Park

The amending bylaw was unanimously adopted by council on April 12, 2023 following consultation with the regional medical health officer.

What is decriminalization?

Decriminalization means that adults (18+) will not be arrested or charged for the possession of up to 2.5 grams of certain illegal drugs for personal use. The exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act came into effect in B.C. on January 31, 2023.

The three-year pilot project is a provincial response to the toxic drug crisis to help reduce the barriers and stigma that prevent people from accessing lifesaving supports and services

Possession of drugs included in the exemption remains illegal on elementary and secondary school grounds or licensed child-care facility premises. You can learn more about decriminalization here.

Why is council prohibiting public consumption in local parks?

The Province has already identified places where public drug use should not occur such as schools and licensed child-care facilities. Council believes that prohibiting drug use in park and playground areas will further protect children in the community.

Council is tasked with fostering the well-being of the community and is granted powers by the Province to establish bylaws related to local public spaces. Smoking, alcohol, and cannabis use are already prohibited in local parks. These rules are also outlined in the District’s Parks Regulation Bylaw 393, 2000.

How will the new rules be enforced?

The District is currently taking an educational approach. Our bylaw enforcement officer will be working alongside local RCMP to provide resources and promote public safety in parks. If you see someone consuming an illicit drug openly at one of the parks, please contact 250-836-2477 or

What local supports and services exist for drug addiction?

Addictions information, resources, and referrals are available locally at Eagle Valley Resource Centre. Please call 250-836-3440 for more information.

Eagle Valley Resource Centre | 1218 Shuswap Ave. | Hours: Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Harm Reduction and Naloxone Kits

Harm reduction kits and naloxone kits are both available at the public health unit operated by the Interior Health Authority and the Eagle Valley I.D.A. Pharmacy.

Eagle Valley I.D.A. Pharmacy

317 Main Street | Hours: Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sicamous Health Centre (Interior Health)
10-1133 Eagle Pass Way | Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT) Clinic

Operated by Interior Health, OAT treats opioid use disorders. Medications are prescribed to provide stable, long-acting relief from withdrawal and cravings to improve health outcomes.  To learn more, please call 250-833-4177.

Where can I learn more about District bylaws and bylaw enforcement?

Please visit the Bylaws & Bylaw Enforcement webpage