Drug bat­tle moves across CBRM

A Town That Cares group to host more town hall meet­ings

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - BY SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE smont­gomery@cb­post.com

The fight against the lo­cal drug cri­sis is be­ing ex­panded.

Buddy Pen­ney, a founder of the A Town That Cares group, says town hall meet­ings will be held in com­mu­ni­ties across the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“We want peo­ple to see it’s a prob­lem for ev­ery com­mu­nity, not just New Water­ford,” he said.

“We will be work­ing on gath­er­ing sup­port to see a men­tal health/drug ad­dic­tion fa­cil­ity built in the CBRM. Strength comes in num­bers.”

Pen­ney and John Bis­son formed the group af­ter Evan Web­ber died on May 6 from a drug overdose. Web­ber was Pen­ney’s nephew and the best friend of Bis­son’s son. The group founders say Web­ber was seek­ing help for his drug ad­dic­tion but ran into de­lays and a lack of re­sources.

About 300 peo­ple at­tended a town hall meet­ing on the drug is­sue Tues­day in New Water­ford.

“I had goose­bumps at the meet­ing see­ing the sup­port,” Pen­ney said.

Pen­ney said the next town hall will be held in Glace Bay and a date and lo­ca­tion will be an­nounced.

“We’ll be do­ing this as long as we have to,” he said. “We’re not go­ing to let this go.”

Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Po­lice Chief Peter McIsaac, who gave a pre­sen­ta­tion at the town hall meet­ing, was also pleased with the com­mu­nity sup­port.

McIsaac said New Water­ford does have a drug cri­sis but the same prob­lem ex­ists across the CBRM, the prov­ince and the coun­try.

McIsaac said Cana­di­ans have free health care and easy ac­cess to highly ad­dic­tive opi­ates.

“Some­one has to hit the re­set but­ton on the health-care sys­tem in Canada and revamp the whole thing, in­clud­ing in the way opi­ates are pre­scribed,” he said.

He said he’s not blam­ing doc­tors.

“The prob­lem is we have to find a bet­ter sys­tem about when we pre­scribe them, why we pre­scribe them and how to get peo­ple off them,” he said.

McIsaac said every­thing from do­mes­tic vi­o­lence calls right up to re­cent homi­cide in­ves­ti­ga­tions can be tied to drug abuse.

He said through the Boots on the Streets pro­gram, po­lice have laid 2,200 charges in re­la­tion to drugs and drug para­pher­na­lia and ex­e­cuted more than 500 search war­rants over the last five to seven years.

“We’ve got­ten over $1 mil­lion in ac­tual drugs seized and over $1 mil­lion in cash and prop­erty seized as a re­sult of our in­ves­ti­ga­tions. There’s no end in sight with this.”

McIsaac is ap­peal­ing to the res­i­dents of New Water­ford and across the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to help the po­lice get drugs off the street. He asks that peo­ple call po­lice with in­for­ma­tion and he is guar­an­tee­ing the strictest con­fi­dence.

“When we have suc­cess­ful drug busts it’s be­cause of the co-op­er­a­tion we get from the peo­ple within the com­mu­nity.”

McIsaac said one opi­ate pill slows down the heart rate, breath­ing and res­pi­ra­tion.

He said at the New Water­ford town hall meet­ing, Dale Jol­lota spoke of her 15-year-old daugh­ter Olivia who died of a drug overdose.

“She took one pill went to sleep and never woke up. If that doesn’t con­cern peo­ple it should. That’s our kids. When you take opi­ates and take the wrong dose or mix it in a cock­tail form you’re play­ing with your life.”



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