Red Deer’s overdose prevention site will continue to operate in the downtown for another year.
The province recently extended funding for the operation of the site until March 31, 2022.
“We’re continuing to operate this vital service. We have secured a contract until the end of the next fiscal year. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen after that. (The province) is still reviewing their reports and recommendations,” said Turning Point’s executive director Stacey Carmichael on Friday.
She said the site will also stay put even though the city is deciding whether Safe Harbour’s temporary homeless shelter can remain at nearby Cannery Row for another year.
Carmichael said moving the shelter would be like “ripping a critical piece of the puzzle away from the downtown.” The shelter maybe a temporary program, but Safe Harbour has provided services out of its own building, located next door to the overdose prevention site, for years.
“They own the property. It’s not a temporary location.”
Hopefully city council votes to allow the shelter to remain downtown for another year, she said.
A public hearing has been set for May 25 ahead of expected second and final readings by city council of the bylaw amendment for the shelter.
Carmichael said March was a slower month at the overdose prevention site due to COVID isolation of clients and operating at half capacity due to the pandemic. But there were still 2,293 visits to the site by 213 different clients last month. The average number of clients per day was 42.
There were also 131 overdose reversals at the site.
Turning Point’s office on Gaetz Avenue has been closed to the public during the pandemic, but staff are assisting clients on the new deck in front of the building.
“Staff spend quite a bit of time outside with folks and the new covered deck sure helps. We’ve adjusted.”
But it’s not ideal, she said.
“People are missing that relationship piece that comes with the ability to sit down and have a conversation.”
Funding for the new deck was provided through the COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund, distributed by United Way Central Alberta and funded by the Government of Canada.