EDITORIAL – Where Dr. Carol Fenton and the health system are all wrong

Dr. Carol Fenton. (Image: CFJC Today)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

DR. CAROL FENTON has been taking a verbal beating lately over the drugs-in-parks bylaw issue.

Not only is strong pushback coming from within municipal government but the Internet trolls have been dishing out some pretty nasty stuff, including what they undoubtedly think are very clever nicknames.

This, because Fenton — the Kamloops medical health officer — objects to the idea of municipalities passing bylaws banning drug use in public places such as parks.

She and others in the healthcare industry are of the opinion that cities should instead focus on other options such as more supervised injection sites, and should wait six months to get a better understanding of the impact of decriminalization.

Such public disagreements are academic, as it’s widely acknowledged that drugs-in-parks bylaws won’t work even if they do get Health Ministry approval, which is unlikely.

At any rate, Fenton isn’t the problem. She’s simply one spokesperson for a healthcare system that is totally out of step with the reality of what’s happening on our streets. That system is mired in a conviction that if we do enough of the things that have been shown not to work, we’ll get the job done.

That approach is living in the past. Nothing that has been tried has worked. Overdose deaths keep increasing. Crime rises. Social disorder grows. People are sick and tired of constantly giving, and getting no results.

The pendulum has swung to the point at which the public good has taken second place to the interests of the few. Those few, of course, deserve opportunities for housing and treatment, but not at the expense of everyday families.

There are answers, if there’s the political will to use them. One is reform of the bail system. Another is the return of mandatory treatment, which is not cruel; allowing the addicted to fend for themselves on the street, to the detriment of all, is what’s cruel.

It’s time to get our priorities straight.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He has served as mayor of Kamloops, school board chair and TNRD director, and is a retired newspaper editor. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9634 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

9 Comments on EDITORIAL – Where Dr. Carol Fenton and the health system are all wrong

  1. Denis Walsh // April 25, 2023 at 11:04 AM // Reply

    Well said Mr. Rothenburger. It is time to declare the current experiment a failure and courageously embrace a new path forward. This ‘disaster’ we are now starting to talk about openly, calls for an ‘honest evaluation’ of the ineffective response and strategies of our public health officials, our elected City officials and the Provincial government. We are well past understanding what we are doing is not working and it is time to start implementing a reform of the bail system, along with a return of mandatory treatment centres.

    • The thing is with the physicians they certainly were and perhaps still are part of the actual problem. Overprescribing opioids for pain control is responsible for a big chunk of the current predicament. There needs to be accountability on their part including, in my opinion, serious punitive measures.

  2. Other cities considering this step of a bylaw of this type, after legal advice pulled out, and the reason is simple:

    It is legally questionable that such a bylaw is constitutional, and if someone wanted to they could lay a suit at the door of a city on grounds of constitutionality … a legal battle that could easily go all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court … and actually take years.

    Oh … and by the way, the legal bill to defend themselves would be entirely on the city that becomes stuck in this quagmire, regardless of win or lose.

    Do tax payers here want to be on the paying end of such a bill?

  3. Valerie Wouters // April 25, 2023 at 8:28 AM // Reply

    Totally agree with this editorial.

  4. John Noakes // April 25, 2023 at 7:01 AM // Reply

    A certain number of folks addicted to opioids are addicted because of the use of prescription pain killers.
    I think this should be part of the discussion process when she meets with Mayor and Council.

  5. Great editorial Mr. MR.
    Our mayor, perhaps a tad more cumbersomely has been saying the same all along too. Why was he targeted in such a vicious way by Mazzotta, Trawin and the Bass ensemble?

    • John Noakes // April 25, 2023 at 8:13 AM // Reply

      Maybe they thought he was an easy target.

      • Bronwen Scott // April 26, 2023 at 9:49 AM //

        He is a target for a number of reasons–wanting to hold city admin to account is one of them. It seems the Bass ensemble, Mazzotta, Trawin and the rest of council would rather focus most of their attention on bashing the mayor rather than dealing with community safety and street crime.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: