Drug battle moves across CBRM
A Town That Cares group to host more town hall meetings
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.”