Six locations identified for consideration for supervised consumption in Red Deer

By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
December 4, 2017 - 9:55pm Updated: December 5, 2017 - 9:23am

Six sites in Red Deer are being identified as possible supervised drug consumption locations.

At a special meeting held Monday, city council passed a resolution to consider Turning Point, Safe Harbour Society, Red Deer Regional Hospital, or the Johnstone Crossing, Bremner Ave. or 49 Street health clinics as possible locations for the supervised consumption site.

The public will be asked to take these sites into consideration as part of their feedback on the matter. A public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. in council chambers.

The resolution passed Monday also better defines supervised consumption services in the Land Use Bylaw. It will also see city council become the development authority for a potential permit application, rather than have the process go through the Municipal Planning Commission.

City council made it clear once again Monday they do not feel like partners in this process with the provincial government. Councillor Ken Johnston laid out a precursor to future talks, reminding council that this is a health crisis the city and region is dealing with.

“We see families being torn apart, lives being lost,” he said. “Simply put, people are dying. The risks continue to multiply and the scourge that is upon us continues to plague us. It’s urgent that we find that balance the community trusts us for.”

Mayor Tara Veer was also stern in her messaging to the provincial government, who she says has been asked repeatedly over the last decade for treatment services in Red Deer.

“Dealing with and attending to the statutory components of the Land Use Bylaw does not mean we are done as a community. [It] should not serve as an indicator to the provincial government that our expectations on those other factors have been diminished,” she said. “If anything, our expectations are elevated because we are responsible for safeguarding the vulnerable and our general community.”

“It's important we hear from the community as much as possible on this decision,” added Councillor Dianne Wyntjes. “I urge the citizens if they have ideas or thoughts on this, please let council hear, both at the public hearing and as well by sending us a letter.”

Council passed an additional resolution Monday urging Alberta Health to release the full results of the needs assessment conducted by the Red Deer Coalition on the Opioid Crisis earlier this year, something The City has asked for repeatedly. Turning Point originally told council they’d receive the results Sept. 30 and then presented an overview on Nov. 14, but the province has continued to withhold it.

Red Deer currently has the second highest rate of fentanyl and non-fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the province.

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