Some reactions to Red Deer city council’s decision to only endorse Red Deer hospital as a potential location for a proposed supervised consumption site (and not Turning Point’s location):
Downtown business owner (and former city councillor) Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer: “It’s the most logical place. It’s a health issue, not a downtown issue … This is an extremely tough (decision). I didn’t see anything this tough when I was on council”
Downtown business owner Bev Krausher: “I was extremely pleased … This is a social problem … I’ve always felt this is not the zoning. I’m glad council approached it from that angle. I know how difficult it was.”
Kath Hoffman of Safe Harbour: “We recognize it was a very difficult decision. (The problem is) we have a Greater Downtown Action plan, but nowhere is there a plan that includes this — yet 95 per cent of people who need these services wanted them to be at Turning Point.”
(Stacey Carmichael of Turning Point could not be reached for comment.)
Coun. Ken Johnston, who wanted the location at Turning Point: Obviously I am disappointed … It takes a while to develop these relationships, and there is a relational impact on the users” — raising concerns that many downtown people with drug addictions will not be willing to access a service located at the hospital.
Coun. Frank Wong who wanted to keep Turning Point location on the table: “We spent almost a year (with) half-a-dozen agencies, all planning the need for a consumption site. They were putting forward Turning Point” — now it’s back to square one. “But I’m satisfied that the business community was not the user of the service,” and another solution will be found.
Coun. Vesna Higham, who made the motion to remove the Turning Point location from the table: “It made sense from a land use and planning rationale. If this was a bare-lands site, council would have said ‘No.’ Turning Point has the relationships and is the right agency to deliver the service … They could always (propose setting) up in an ATCO trailer ” and have the service available quickly.
Coun. Dianne Wyntjes who felt the Turning Point location is wrong, and wants Alberta Health Services to help plan the health service: “I hope we’ve got their attention now. This is a health issue, so (help us) determine what are the next steps? Over the last decade there’s been an infrastructure deficit at Red Deer hospital” that needs to be addressed by the province. “We have 453,000 people in Central Alberta that Red Deer hospital has to provide for.”