Red Deer grassroots campaign takes aim at drugs, homelessness

Online support for Stand Up For A Safe Community

In a little over a day more than 470 people have declared they are fed up with local drug and homelessness problems in Red Deer.

The online site that went live Wednesday afternoon — Stand Up for A Safe Community — says people are done with the overdose deaths, drug use in public, the needle debris and all the shopping carts.

People are invited to add their name in support.

The movement, initiated by 100 concerned Red Deerians, calls on housing and health ministries to provide capital and operating funding for a 24/7, temporary facility for homeless who are actively using drugs that has space to store their belongings, access to safe consumption and other heath services.

So far only a temporary overdose prevention program, similar to a supervised consumption site, is coming to Red Deer.

Cindy Jefferies, who was one of the 100 people to kick start the campaign, said her fellow safe community supporters come from every walk of life.

“It’s very grassroots orientated and very organic in how it came together. We could have used the word petition. We chose not to. It’s not about laying blame at anyone’s feet. It’s just a plea for let’s all work together,” Jefferies said on Thursday.

“It’s out of frustration and a desire to do something.”

She said more and more people are posting about the debris they find in the downtown, and as someone who lives there, she sees evidence every day of homeless activity.

“I don’t have to go very far walking my dog to find where someone has slept.

“There are issues in our community, particularly in the core, that are getting worse and it doesn’t seem like much is happening in the way of making it better for anyone,” Jefferies said.

Kerstin Heuer said she supports the campaign because Red Deer is in crisis.

“I walk to the office and find needle debris at our back door. My colleague couldn’t come to work because she was afraid to leave the house due to people hanging out at the entrance of her apartment building,” Heuer said.

“My friend’s son died due to an accidental overdose. I see homeless people with their belongings in a shopping cart. My friend is concerned about her child walking through downtown to the bus depot after school.”

She said citizens are concerned about safety and they feel ignored and not heard.

“We need to find a solution that serves all of us. And we can only do it together. It doesn’t help to blame individual drug addicts, service agencies, RCMP or city council.”

She said she cares about her community and its people.

“With this campaign, we want to combine our voices and show the urgency of this matter,” Heuer said.

Jefferies said the campaign wants to draw attention to the need for collaboration that includes government, social agencies, citizens and homeless.

“It’s not about trying to point fingers at anyone. It’s about bringing the community together.”

Petition is online at https://standup-now.ca



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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