What’s In The Harm Reduction Bylaw Amendment?

By December 16, 2013Municipal Politics, Politics

As reported December 11, Abbotsford Harm Reduction Bylaw will finally be moving towards and end game which will involve removing the restrictions prohibiting harm reduction services by means of an amendment to the existing bylaw.

As part of the proposed bylaw amendment a new working relationship between the City of Abbotsford, the Abbotsford Police Department and the Fraser Health Authority was recommended for implementing and reviewing an Abbotsford-based harm reduction program.

The Public Hearing for the community to provide input to Council on the proposed amendments will be held on January 13, 2014 at 7:00pm in the Mastqui Centennial Auditorium.

The council report including staff recommendations is reproduced below.


Regular Council
Report No. EDP154-2013
November 25, 2013
File No: 4900-20/ZB-002
To: Mayor and Council
From: Reuben Koole, Senior Planner
Subject: Harm Reduction Zoning Bylaw Amendment and Related Regulatory


1. THAT Report No. EDP154-2013, dated November 25, 2013, from the Senior
Planner, regarding the Harm Reduction Zoning Bylaw Amendment and Related
Regulatory Documents be received;
2. THAT Bylaw No. 2268-2013, cited as “Abbotsford Zoning Bylaw, 1996,
Amendment Bylaw No. 699”, be given first reading and advanced to Public
Hearing; and
3. THAT the Mayor and Corporate Officer be authorized to execute all documents
related to this matter.


In 2005, the Zoning Bylaw was amended to add a definition of ‘harm reduction use’,
which includes prohibition of needle exchanges, mobile dispensing vans, safe injection
sites, and other similar uses. The Zoning Bylaw prohibits “harm reduction” in all zones in
the City. In 2010, Fraser Health Authority (FHA) and Hepatitis C Council of British
Columbia submitted letters asking the City to re-examine its harm reduction regulations.

Staff have been working with Council on the issue of harm reduction since FHA’s
request in 2010, including conducting a technical review and public forums. At the April
22, 2013 Executive Meeting, Council directed staff to prepare a Zoning Bylaw
amendment, Good Neighbour Agreement Policy and Good Neighbour Agreement for
Council’S consideration (Attachment A).

In addition, the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee (ASDAC) has
discussed harm reduction at several meetings. At their November 14, 2012 meeting they
passed a motion recommending Council remove the Zoning Bylaw definition of harm
reduction, and work with FHA to implement their proposed harm reduction service plan.


Staff prepared a Zoning Bylaw amendment, and have developed a Good Neighbour
Agreement (GNA) and Good Neighbour Agreement Policy (Policy) by working closely
with FHA and the Abbotsford Police Department (APD), and by consulting with service
providers currently providing harm reduction services in Abbotsford. At the request of
APD, staff also developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (Figure 1).

The Zoning Bylaw amendment removes the definition of “harm reduction use”
from the Zoning Bylaw.

• The MOU establishes the working relationship between the three public agencies
for implementing and reviewing an Abbotsford-based harm reduction program
(FHA, City, and APO).

• The Policy establishes Council’s guidelines for when a GNA may be used by the
City (includes, but is not limited to, needle exchanges).

• The GNA establishes the working relationship between the two public agencies
(FHA and City) and service providers related to particular Abbotsford-based harm
reduction services

Zoning Bylaw amendment

The amendment removes the definition of “harm reduction use” from the Zoning Bylaw
(Attachment B). This would remove the prohibition of harm reduction health care service
delivery in Abbotsford, including needle exchanges. Staff recommend Council give
Bylaw No. 2268-2013 first reading and advance it to a Public Hearing.

Memorandum of Understanding

The MOU (Attachment C) establishes a partnership between FHA, the City, and APO for
implementing and reviewing an Abbotsford-based harm reduction program. These three
public agencies are responsible for providing health care services (FHA), regulating land
use (City), and maintaining public safety and order (APO).

The MOU is an agreement that formalizes the working relationship among the public
agencies, including FHA’s commitment to use GNAs and evaluate the services it
provides in Abbotsford. It is not intended to regulate where or how the services are

Good Neighbour Agreement Policy

The Policy establishes provisions for when a Good Neighbour Agreement may be used
(Attachment C). In this particular case, needle exchanges are the first service that a
GNA would regulate. However, the Policy is worded to allow Council to use a GNA for
other uses or services. In other communities, GNAs have been used for liquor
establishments and drug and alcohol treatment centres.

As the Policy is adopted and controlled by Council, it is structured to function
independent of the MOU and would remain in effect regardless of whether an MOU is in
place. It is a record of Council’s position on the matter of mitigating nuisance and
disruptive behavior for activities such as needle exchanges, and does not require
approval from other public agencies. The Policy formalizes a method for regulating these
services in Abbotsford and enables the City to be involved managing the services.

The Policy has been reviewed by the City Solicitor. Staff recommend Council consider
approval of the Policy at time of adoption of Bylaw No. 2268-2013.
Good Neighbour Agreement template

The GNA template for needle exchanges (Attachment D) implements the Policy and
regulates the services to ensure they are provided in a responsible manner. It is
structured as follows:

• Whereas clauses describing the situation and purpose of the GNA.

• Guiding Principles establishing common ground for all participating

• Regulatory sections explaining in detail how a service will be provided, including
service location and hours; noise, disorder and cleanliness; criminal activity;
complaints; amendments; and enforcement.

The GNA has been accepted by FHA and APD, and reviewed by the City Solicitor. Staff
recommend Council consider approval of the GNA template at time of adoption of Bylaw
No. 2268-2013.

Good Neighbour Bylaw

Staff note that the Policy and GNA are not directly related to the Good Neighbour Bylaw.
The Good Neighbour Bylaw contains regulations that are within the City’s authority to
enforce under Provincial legislation. These regulations will help enforce certain aspects
of the GNA (e.g. noise and litter). In addition, other Provincial and Federal laws also still
apply and are not superseded by the GNA (for example, the Criminal Code of Canada).
Section 21 of the GNA clarifies that other City bylaws and Provincial and Federal
regulations remain enforceable.


Should Council adopt Bylaw No. 2268-2013 and approve the MOU, Policy, and GNA,
staff will implement them as follows:

• The MOU will be signed and acted on by all parties, and a follow-up report about
the effectiveness of the program will be prepared and presented by FHA in two

• Service providers will be jointly reviewed by FHA, the City, and APD, and be
required to enter into a GNA in order to distribute harm reduction supplies in
Abbotsford, including needles exchanges. The GNA will be specific to each
service provider’s program location.

• The General Manager, Planning and Development Services, will prepare GNAs
to be executed by the Mayor and Corporate Officer. Administration of the
prepared GNAs will be conducted through the Planning and Development
Services Department.
Staff will communicate to Council any major issues that may arise for discussion and

There are no Financial Plan implications at this time. Any additional work would be
completed with existing staff resources.

If supported by Council, the rezoning Bylaw will proceed to a Public Hearing. Two
advertisements for the Public Hearing will be published in the City Page of the local

To view the original document simply click here.

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