Enderby officials consider drug-free zones

The goal is to ensure harsher sentences for people trafficking within zones around schools

Enderby wants to take a stand on drugs.

The city is currently investigating whether drug-free zones should be established.

“It’s a multi-faceted approach. It’s not just about putting up a sign,” said Mayor Howie Cyr.

Drug-free zones were created in Canada 10 years ago as a joint effort between school districts, federal Crown, communities and law enforcement.

The goal is to ensure harsher sentences for people trafficking within zones around schools and to deter drug activity from moving into these areas.

“The entire community — schools, students, treatment providers, local government, RCMP, the judicial system and community leaders — must join forces to clean up the neighbourhoods and school yards to create safer and healthier places to live and learn,” said Warren Smith, rural programs co-ordinator with the RCMP Safe Communities Unit.

“In some circumstances, judges have handed out longer sentences to people who traffic drugs around schools.”

Drug-free zones exist in Kelowna, Nanaimo and Williams Lake.

“The intent of the zones is certainly a good one and they have been effective to some degree. But they haven’t had the impact that was hoped for at the beginning,” said Mike Roberts, Kelowna’s school superintendent.

“You must consider the RCMP’s resources and ability to respond to what might be considered a minor drug possession.”

Despite some concerns about implementation, Cyr, a former RCMP officer, supports drug-free zones.

“It’s not a quick solution but we can alert people  that drug dealing is going on and that we care about the situation. It’s better than doing nothing,” he said.

Coun. Raquel Knust will work with other community partners about possibly establishing drug-free zones.