A majority of Advocate readers want to see a supervised-injection site at Turning Point in the City of Red Deer.
The Advocate conducted a poll between Dec. 5 and 11 asking residents where they would like to see a supervised-injection site in Red Deer.
Council is considering one of six potential locations for the site: Turning Point or Safe Harbour facilities, Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre or the health clinics in Johnstone Park, 49th Street or Bremner Avenue.
A public input session is slated for Dec. 19 in council chambers where council hopes to hear more from residents.
Our Advocate poll results show 254 people or about 44 per cent out of the 582 votes agreed the supervised-injection site should be at Turning Point.
Some 179 people, or 30 per cent of poll takers, support a site at Safe Harbour Society, and another 69 voters, or 11 per cent, support a site at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
Fewer residents supported a site at Red Deer 49th Street Community Health Centre with only 43 votes (seven per cent). Twenty-four votes (four per cent) were cast for Red Deer Johnstone Crossing Community Health Centre and a mere 13 votes (or two per cent of support) for a site at the Red Deer Bremner Avenue Community Health Centre.
At a special council meeting on Dec. 4, Coun. Dianne Wyntjes suggested the city’s three community health clinics act as possible locations since the clinics deal with health issues anyway and given that opioid crisis is a major health concern.
But not all councillors liked that idea.
Mayor Tara Veer said the three locations are close to residential neighbourhoods. Coun. Buck Buchanan, Vesna Higham and Tanya Handley, along with Veer, voted against Wyntjes’s amendment, but the motion carried since most of the council was in favour.
A Turning Point needs assessment determined a supervised-injection site was needed to deal with Central Alberta’s opioid crisis.
Coun. Lawrence Lee said it would be better if council had a say, while Handley said she couldn’t make an informed decision on a supervised-injection site because she lacked the required knowledge.
Cody Morrow, a Red Deer resident and a fentanyl user, said having a supervised-injection site in the city is a good idea because it would keep users safe.
Morrow, 45, said a supervised-injection site would have help available in case it’s needed.
But it would only work if the stigma of using such a site goes away.
“Otherwise, users won’t use the facility,” he said.
Morrow, a father of four, said a site would eliminate issues like used needles and debris on the city streets.
A supervised-injection site is not all he would like to see in Red Deer. He also hopes to see a long-term rehab type program. He said he’s been using drugs since he was 13 and has been using fentanyl for about a year.
During the many years of drug use, he has tried to get into rehab programs in other cities like Calgary. But he has never been successful due to the long wait times, and he hopes that would change in the future.