Red Deer’s overdose prevention site has been granted a funding extension so it can remain running until a provincial study is completed on supervised consumption sites.
Steve Buick, spokesman for Alberta Health, said the city’s overdose prevention site is a special case in the province.
It was meant to operate out of a portable in the Safe Harbour parking lot as a temporary measure, until a permanent supervised consumption site could get off the ground.
But once the United Conservative Party was elected last spring, a hold was placed on all new SCS sites, leaving Red Deer’s facility unable to open. This meant the temporary overdose prevention site continues to run longer than initially intended.
Buick noted the site study results won’t be known until the end of the year, while existing funds for Red Deer’s overdose prevention facility will run out Sept. 30.
The government decided the facility should be allowed to continue operating until study results are known.
Buick said about $800,000 of additional operating funds will be made available to keep the facility running to the end of December, or possibly to the end of March, if the government needs a few more months to make a decision.
He said this shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign of ongoing support — “we are still committed to doing the review, but we did not want to interrupt services while the review was underway.”
Buick added the government continues to be aware of community concerns regarding the overdose prevention site.
“We understand there are a lot of issues, and we are working hard to respond.”
Turning Point operates the overdose prevention site, which is located on Safe Harbour’s property.
Stacey Carmichael, executive director of Turning Point, could not immediately be reached for comment.
But a first-quarter report released by Alberta Health suggested the local site was helping save lives. Central zone had eight overdose deaths, including two in Red Deer, compared to 18 for the same period in 2018.