Addictions minister tours Red Deer drug use site

Jason Luan toured supervised consumption site

The provincial government review of Alberta’s supervised drug consumption sites will wrap up in the fall, and the public will be consulted before any decisions are made, said Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions.

“The public will have a chance to really participate and get their voices heard,” Luan said in Red Deer, where he toured the temporary supervised consumption site and the nearby detox centre Friday.

“The review is a specific pledge that we made during our campaign. It’s about the socio-economic impact to the site and proposed site for the surrounding communities.”

Red Deer will hear before the end of the year whether funding will be approved for a permanent supervised consumption site, he said.

Luan also met with Mayor Tara Veer and Downtown Business Association representatives.

“They have concerns of the location of the site,” he said. “They have concerns of the negative unintended impact.”

All agreed that no single level of government can solve the addiction issue.

“It’s a community issue. We recognize we need to work together and we can all pitch in what we can.

“We all recognize things need to be changed. Things need to be improved.”

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan said, “this is probably one of the most important issues we face in our community.

“I would say that with the status quo that we are currently experiencing, there’s a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “I appreciate the great efforts of the associate minister and our new government to try and change the narrative and the approach in furtherance of the public interest.”

Stephan said he was pleased to have the opportunity to meet with those who are helping local addicts and other community stakeholders.

“I am grateful for the service that they are seeking to provide,” he said.

Stephan said it is important that decisions are made in the public interest.

“And part of that is making sure we have all the information that we have available to us so we can make good decisions.

“It’s clear, of course, when we are meeting with members of the business community that the status quo we’re currently experiencing is not in the public interest of the community we live in, work in and raise our families in.”

Stephan said the government wants to do what is right for those struggling with addiction, as well as for all members of the community.

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