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Red Deer city council gives final approval for supervised drug consumption site

Business license subject to twice daily cleanup within 150-metres
Turning Point will be moving to 5233 54th Ave. in Rail Lands, where it will operate a supervised consumption site. (File photo by Advocate staff)

After months of controversy, final approval for Red Deer’s supervised consumption drug site was given without debate by city council Monday.

The business licence is subject to several detailed requirements, however.

These include making the operator, Turning Point, come up with a plan for daily outside inspections and twice daily cleanup — including needle pickup within a 150-metre radius of the permanent site at 5233 54th Ave., northwest of Superstore.

Turning Point must also install and maintain a monitored, professional video camera surveillance system at the street drug injection and consumption site.

The licence holder must designate an individual to serve as a liaison with the city and the public to address any emerging issues or community concerns. And there must also be a plan in place to address emergency, medical and security concerns.

Council unanimously approved the business licence Monday after last month passing a longer list of development conditions for the site, including fencing it off from the back, sides and front with a tall fence.

After more than 17 months of debate and controversy, there didn’t seem much more to say Monday.

Coun. Tanya Handley only stated these licensing requirements were passed to try to mitigate impacts on the neighbourhood, which council recognizes there will be.

Alberta Health had been pushing for the opening of the site to reduce overdose deaths in Red Deer, which are the highest in the province.

There were mixed feelings about the site on council, which had been hoping to get a local addictions treatment centre.

Turning Point’s executive director, Stacey Carmichael, said Monday she’s very happy to be able to move forward on the project, which had been first proposed in August 2017.

It was dogged by controversy, including much opposition from downtown business owners over the first proposed location on Little Gaetz. Neighbours also did not want it in the Rail Lands.

The approved location is just around the corner from where a mobile drug consumption site is operating at the Safe Harbour parking lot. The empty building in which it will operate will require a renovation and expansion.

Turning Point plans to relocate all its services to the site. Carmichael doesn’t have a timeline for the opening, saying it will depend how long renovations take. But she’s hoping the site will be operational by the summer.

The development permit for the site is subject to a seven-year sunset clause. This means the permit expires in 2025, when its operators will have to come before council again for a new permit.

Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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