Deborah Watson, of the national group Moms Stop the Harm, says people are concerned that the United Conservative Party may prevent Red Deer’s supervised consumption site from opening. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Red Deer drug consumption site in question under UCP

Families call service life saving

Red Deerians with family members struggling with opioid addiction are shocked that the United Conservative Party may stand in the way of a supervised drug consumption site in the city.

UCP Leader Jason Kenney has said his party would oppose the opening of more sites, and Red Deer has yet to open its location, which would provide more services than its existing overdose prevention facility.

“It feels like a kick in the stomach to everybody who’s lost someone. Their lives matter. They mattered to somebody,” said Deborah Watson, central Alberta spokeswoman with Moms Stop the Harm.

“We’re talking about a life-saving measure. It’s vital,” said Watson, who compared the life-saving capacity of drug consumption sites to defibrillators in malls.

In 2018, the number of people dying from fentanyl overdoses in Red Deer doubled to 47.

She said families who have been advocating for Red Deer’s overdose prevention site are upset that the city may lose it before it even opens.

“I understand everyone is entitled to their opinion, but you can’t debate facts. The facts are these save lives,” Watson said.

City Coun. Ken Johnston said limiting consumption sites won’t help solve the opioid addiction problem, which is a public health issue.

“Without support, cities are left to deal with what has now become a very, very pronounced provincial and national health crisis. That’s my concern,” Johnston said.

Plans are already moving forward to renovate and open Red Deer’s consumption site and Johnston hoped work would be allowed to continue.

Related:

Alberta government, Opposition clash on ethics of safe drug consumption sites

Decrease in crime in Red Deer, including near safe consumption site: RCMP

Supervised drug consumption site to be welcoming, safe environment: Turning Point

Red Deer city council approved the business licence for the drug consumption site in January, after a few years of trying to find a location. Businesses in Rail Lands, where a building is to be renovated for the site, are against the project.

Turning Point, the agency that will operate the safe consumption site, funded by Alberta Health, declined to comment.

City Coun. Vesna Higham said there is a role for safe drug consumption sites to play in the spectrum of health-care services, but adequate treatment services must also be available and they have been lacking in Red Deer.

“Without (treatment) emphasis, then the safe consumption services is just a revolving door that people rarely get out of,” Higham said.

She said as long as people are stuck in that revolving door, crime will continue to impact citizens and people struggling with addiction are still going to lose their lives. Many have been saved by consumption sites, but only a small percentage of people use them.

“It has a proven record of saving lives, but in isolation, I’m opposed to the manner in which safe consumption sites have been rolled out across our province without commensurate focus on treatment.”

— With files from The Canadian Press



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Red Deerians shop for exotic plants at spring plant sale

Exotic plants are popular at the Red Deer & District Garden Club’s… Continue reading

Central Albertans come together to end MS

Red Deer’s Bre Fitzpatrick has MS. The medication the 34-year-old is on… Continue reading

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

HIGH LEVEL, Alta. — Crews battling an enormous wildfire just outside the… Continue reading

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

OTTAWA — While most Canadians firmly back the Charter of Rights and… Continue reading

Red Deer stamp-collecting event a hit, local club expected to start in fall

Postage stamp-loving Red Deerians can expect to have a place to gather… Continue reading

WATCH: Cars, airplanes, motorcyles on display at Red Deer Airport

Cars, motorcycle and airplane enthusiasts united at the Red Deer Airport Sunday… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Bid to get D-Day beaches added to list of UN World Heritage Sites in limbo

OTTAWA — The beaches of Normandy, where the Allies stormed ashore to… Continue reading

Could this 20-year-old Montreal polyglot be Canada’s most multilingual student?

MONTREAL — Georges Awaad answers the phone with a polite “Hello,” but… Continue reading

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have laid out their proposal for rules… Continue reading

Trump’s trophy day of sumo, golf and cheeseburgers in Japan

TOKYO — President Donald Trump presented a special U.S.-made trophy to the… Continue reading

Two dead, one seriously injured, following explosion in Calgary home’s garage

CALGARY — Police in Calgary say they believe a house fire where… Continue reading

Raptors fans spill onto the streets ahead of potentially historic game

Cars honked, exhilarated fans chanted and long lines formed outside bars and… Continue reading

Most Read