In response to concerns raised on Social Media, administration would like to assist residents with a brief introduction to resources available to them as well as information on current legal structures in place. We hope to provide a series of informative posts to help residents of our community feel engaged, heard and able to constructively focus their efforts and concerns. Please note that as this is a very complex topic, it has been greatly simplified to fit the needs of Social Media, not all options or nuances are explored here.
Council & Residents role in our community
Council’s role in our community is one of legal power. They have the power to decide how to use municipal tax dollars to keep our community running in a healthy and safe manner. Their power is set out and restricted by the Alberta Government in the Municipal Government Act.
As residents of the community, this community is ours and we all need to work together to improve issues we see or provide services that may be needed. A large complex problem like Drug Addiction and Abuse does not have a ‘silver bullet’ solution, but there are things already in place that every resident can use to help improve life in our community. We will discuss some of these in future posts, as well as how you can get involved!
Illicit Drug Use & Addiction
The federal (Canadian) government sets the laws regarding what drugs are legal and illegal in Canada. As a federal law, this is enforced by the RCMP and other Police forces. Council does not have the authority to write bylaws regarding or restricting federal laws, except for in specific cases where the Province has allowed this. An example of this would be with the new federal Cannabis laws, the Province has allowed each municipality to decide on the topic of public consumption of Cannabis. However, it would be illegal for a Council to enact a bylaw that made cannabis illegal in their municipality. Bylaw Enforcement Officers typically do not have the authority to enforce the Controlled Drugs Act.
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act – http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-38.8/
The RCMP and other health and safety organizations, such as Alberta Health Services, recognizes the impacts that illicit drugs and addiction can have on a community and have put in place several resources. There are resources to address both aspects of the issue, the illegal and illicit acts performed by those who are using these drugs, as well as resources for those that realize they have a problem and are attempting to free themselves from this addiction.
Alberta Sheriffs – Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN): http://www.scan.alberta.ca
Alberta Health Addiction and Counselling Resources: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/zone/ahs-zn-north-map-brochure.pdf
Fairview Drug Awareness Coalition: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/amh/Page2704.aspx
RCMP Crime Map (submit a tip/report): Available at https://www.fairview.ca/municipal/protective-services/
What Can I Do?
As a resident of our community, perhaps you have an idea or think something should be done in a better way. While complaining on Social Media can be therapeutic, it typically does not produce any meaningful results. If you feel strongly about an issue, try to organize a group or meet with a group that has already been established for that purpose. Have a meeting with like-minded individuals and discuss the issue and potential solutions. We hope that some of the information we have provided already can help point you in that direction.
Then, when you have a plan, reach out to local organizations that may be able to help you reach your goals. Council can hear out proposals and may be able to assist with locally-led initiatives, but typically would not lead the initiative themselves.
Funding for Local Initiatives
Alberta Health Services provides funding (discussed in Post 3) for both addiction counselling and locally led coalitions. As funding is already available through those organisations, it would be easiest to attempt to work with those organizations for needed funding.
Council and your local MLA would be another option to discuss funding with. However, please be aware that these are very limited sources of funding. For new projects and initiatives, it can be difficult to find significant sources of funding, as this would require raising taxes or cutting another service. To receive funding in this way, you often must also form an official organisation.
Fundraising using locally-led initiatives is another option. When you meet with like-minded individuals to discuss your plans and solutions, try to also discuss possible sources for raising funds. Perhaps selling locally made goods at the Farmers Market with the proceeds going to your organisation or donations from local businesses. To accept donations, you usually also must form an official organisation.
As mentioned several times, Drug Abuse and Addiction is a very complex topic that many smart people have been working on for a long time. Reach out to some of these organisations and get their ideas. What works well? What did they try that didn’t work well? Where do they get their funding from?
The Community Action on Drug Abuse Prevention brochure linked below has some more guidance from Alberta Health Services about how to get a community led organisation up and running.
National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/
Community Action on Drug Abuse Prevention (AHS): https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/healthinfo/AddictionsSubstanceAbuse/if-com-communityaction-manual.pdf
Canadian Government list of substance abuse resources: https://www.canada.ca/en/healthcanada/services/substance-use/get-help/get-help-with-drug-abuse.html