City Council demands more time for drug consumption site study

Study now due at the end this month

A demand by the province for Red Deer to speed up work on its study to determine if a supervised drug consumption site is needed in the city is unreasonable says city council.

On June 28 Alberta Health informed the Red Deer Coalition on the Opioid Crisis doing the study that it must be submitted, completed or not, by July 31 instead of the Sept. 30 deadline the coalition had been working towards.

City administration said the September deadline was already ambitious and that the issue required careful study and community consultation.

Council unanimously voted to request that the provincial offices in charge allow the Red Deer coalition be given until Sept. 30 to complete the full study and that council be provided a copy for review to submit the city’s position no later than Dec. 31.

“To establish a municipal position on what is a highly complex, potentially highly divisive issue, we cannot possibly as a council submit a grounded opinion that reflects our community fairly in that type of time frame,” said Mayor Tara Veer on Monday.

Last October the province announced money for Alberta communities with existing needle exchange programs to assess the need for safe, supervised sites for opioid use.

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said she was really frustrated by the push to get the study and consultation done in only 21 days.

“Supervised consumption sites must be mirrored and aligned with treatment options at the same time. It disturbs me that we do just do one and then the other,” Wyntjes said.

The coalition is made up of members from Turning Point Society, Alberta Health Services, Red Deer College’s Nursing Faculty, Safe Harbour Society, Red Deer Primary Care Network, RCMP, Vantage Community Services, McMan Youth, the City of Red Deer, and individuals with first-hand experience with opioids.

szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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