British Columbia mayors are practically begging the provincial government to step in to re-regulate lax policies toward drug possession in public parks..Since BC legalized small amounts of hard drugs such as meth, fentanyl and cocaine in January of this year, municipalities across the province have been experiencing a wave of open drug abuse in public parks and playgrounds — and all the nuisance crime that comes with it.. Drug deaths in BCBC deaths in 2022 by age and cause. .Under provincial policy, police have been instructed to place a lower priority on drug possession charges and indeed they have; leaving residents no resort but to call up bylaw officers. .And it’s not just in metro-Vancouver, which is notorious for its infamous Lower East Hastings barrio, where open drug use is a fact of daily life. .Port Coquitlam, Campbell River, Kelowna and even Nelson have all proposed amendments to their respective bylaws to ban open drug use in public spaces. They join Kamloops, Sicamous, Prince George and Penticton that have already done so..But they complain the measures have no teeth without the prospect of stricter enforcement..“I think that we need to realize that the Province has heard loud and clear, not just from the City of Nelson but every municipality in BC, that decriminalization in its current form does not work,” Nelson Mayor Janice Morrison told a meeting of city’s council on July 25..In 2022 a record 2,384 people in BC died from drug overdoses, making it the leading cause of death across a broad demographic including teens and middle-aged men. Last week the province’s health authority reported an additional 1,455 deaths in the first seven months of this year, which is on track for another yearly record..Jennifer Whiteside, BC’s minister of mental health and addictions, admitted open drug use is a longstanding problem but denied any “real of perceived” increase from decriminalization. On Wednesday, she told a meeting of metro-Vancouver mayors that the aim of the policy was to get addicts into care as opposed to the criminal justice system..According to the Union of BC Municipalities, the ministries of public safety and the solicitor general have pledged to review the policy during the fall sitting of the legislature and make recommendations regarding drug use in limited areas, such as playgrounds..That said, the province is reluctant to a pass a law forcing addicts into treatment, as has been proposed in Alberta..The legalization policy is generally supported by local police departments. However it’s getting pushback from residents who complain they’re more likely to get fined for puffing cigarettes in public than for smoking crack..Earlier this week Vancouver deputy police chief Fiona Wilson told the city’s police board that while it supports the law, it has also tied the hands of police..“Just to be clear, we don't think there's necessarily been a dramatic increase in public consumption. But what has changed is police no longer have the authority to ask someone to move along in the event that they're using illicit drugs in problematic circumstances, like, for example, on a playground.”.But not all people support a ban on public usage outright..Leslie McBain, co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm, a network of mothers whose children have died of overdoses, said the “root problem is that many BC communities do not have places where people can use drugs safely, where they’ll be seen and helped if they overdose, so communities are seeing drug use in parks.”.“The answer is not more policies that directly target people who are usually already homeless or struggling with their mental health, it is more overdose prevention sites and services,” she added.