Hay River’s Drug Free Zone (DFZ) Committee is working on adding nine more locations.
Current zones, marked by signs, include all four Hay River schools, the Don Stewart Recreation Centre, Town Hall, the Hay River Community Youth Centre and NWT Centennial Library.
The zones were picked based on locations where youth are more likely to congregate.
The new zones would include: the Old Town baseball diamond, two parks in Hay River’s 553 subdivision, Malcolm Crescent, Camsell Crescent, the Kiwanis Trail from Diamond Jennness Secondary School to Gaetz Drive, Tri-Service Park, Kiwanis Park, John Mapes Crescent and Chamber Park.
DFZ Committee chairperson Keith Dohey said it makes sense to expand around Hay River.
“We wanted to include the rest of the areas where youth usually congregate,” the town councillor said. “It was a no-brainer for us to make these areas safer for them. It has a very low financial impact on the town, but ultimately it’s council’s decision, which I will support.”
The DFZ Committee also proposed several new ideas with the goal of advancing its mandate and educational role, such as distributing maps of the DFZ and an information package to new Hay River RCMP detachment members and posting laminated maps of the DFZ on public bulletin boards.
“It was always our intention to move in that direction, to adopt a phased approach,” said DFZ Committee member Kevin Wallington. “We were always fighting to make sure it wouldn’t expand too quickly as to not diminish the strength of the idea.”
The zones are designed to add weight to a drug possession or trafficking charge, thus potentially increasing a person’s sentence under Section 10 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Wallington also mentioned the Citizens on Patrol (COP) group, which had been in limbo since its creation last year, has received support from the Alberta Citizens on Patrol Association.
The Hay River COP’s partnership with the DFZ was recently ratified and the latter’s members will go through training shortly.
“To have those people who can watch these DFZ locations will strengthen our resolve that we won’t tolerate these illegal activities in areas where our kids are,” Wallington said.
The Drug Free Zones were established in 2010 following a request made by the family of the late Const. Christopher Worden, who was shot and killed in the line of duty while serving with the RCMP in Hay River in 2007.
— Myles Dolphin