Dean Fortin (Mayor)

1. Do you favour the re-opening of a fixed site needle exchange in the city of Victoria?

Yes

2. Do you support the opening of a safe consumption site (like that of In-Site in Vancouver) for the City of Victoria?

This is something that Victoria needs to look at, but it’s important that it be part of a continuum of care that involves improving coordination with health services and other agencies that link drug users to detox, treatment, counseling and prevention service; and to social services in the community that assist those who want to get off drugs.

3. What does the term harm reduction mean to you?

Harm reduction is recognizing that we have issues in our community which need to be addressed.

4. What role do you see harm reduction playing in the creation of a healthy, thriving Victoria?

Recognizing that we have an issue in Victoria is the first step. Looking for consensus with our community around a viable solution is the second step at which point we can implement a change to fix the issues. This will make Victoria a healthy place to live, whether it’s business, tourism, or community. We need to work together to make this a place that everyone wants to live in, play in and visit.

5. What actions will you take to ensure the City of Victoria follows the principals of harm reduction?

We’ll be looking for increased enforcement on behavior and prosecute on the drug trade and the related criminal offences. Police will be guided by an individual’s behavior in determining whether or not to lay drug or alcohol possession charges. Police will also target areas frequented by children, such as schools and parks, and other areas where use of drugs interfere with community use of the public areas. And police will target for prosecution organized crime, drug dealing, drug houses, and problem businesses involved in the drug trade.

6. What is your position on the current 'war on drugs' and the Victoria Police Department’s approach to substance use and users?

We need to remain proactive when it comes to protecting and enhancing Victoria’s quality of life. Whether it’s drug addiction, gang violence, or crime, City Hall needs to have a long term commitment to keeping our citizens safe.

7. What, if any, alternative approaches to current drug laws have you considered? Please describe.

I’ll start with changes in City bylaws to give police more power to enforce against drug dealing and public consumption of drugs. Community impact statements will be used more to allow the judges to hear from those in the community who experience the negative impact of substance misuse. I will encourage police to work together moving towards integrating policing units across the region, developing community courts to allow immediate prosecution of minor offenses and diverting many of those arrested into community service, access to counseling, drug treatment programs and other social supports.

8. What further commitments or additional comments would you like to make on your position on drug use and harm reduction, as they affect your candidacy?

Part of our enforcement efforts must and will involve improving coordination with health services and other agencies that link drug users to detox, treatment, counseling and prevention services. Most importantly, Victoria needs to stay focused on its priorities, and we need experienced leadership to move forward in these challenging times.