Officials wait for decision on supervised drug consumption site

Red Deer’s Turning Point expecting to hear final word this month

With Canada facing a national opioid crisis and Red Deer alone having had the highest fentanyl related deaths in Alberta last year, it’s sparked the interest of one particular group to open up a supervised consumption site in the City.

Turning Point Society was designated as project lead, and a Red Deer Coalition on the opioid crisis was formed to undertake a needs assessment for the consumption service in Red Deer, which was recently completed and found that the City does in fact need one.

They submitted the final report to the province at the end of September and are now waiting to hear back as to whether or not one will be approved for Red Deer.

“It went to our provincial coordinating body of all the harm reduction organizations in the province, and they’re going to roll out that data to a provincial context,” said Stacey Carmichael, executive director at Turning Point.

Carmichael said they are hoping to hear back from the province by the end of October as to whether or not they feel that Red Deer needs a supervised consumption service.

“I’m making as assumption they’ll allocate some money for us to do that work, but before we can even take that step we’re going to need to apply for federal exemption through Health Canada,” she said.

She said although they haven’t identified a particular location for the site, their data shows that Turning Point will be the organization that would operate the site.

In terms of feedback from the community, she said they’ve received lots of support.

“Lots of people support the concept for a variety of reasons, because they care about people who use drugs and they see it as a step in a continuum of addiction care, and the fact that it will save people’s lives while we wait for things like treatment and that type of thing.”

She said there are also lots of people who don’t support the service because they feel it may be enabling folks, but she believes they have the opportunity to talk about it and educate the community on the concept.

“Perhaps we might be able to garner more support from those guys,” she said, adding that it might be hard for some people to wrap their heads around.

She said she hears lots of people talking about treatment options and that people should just receive treatment.

“Well that’s not necessarily going to work for everybody,” she said.

In the meantime they will wait to see what the province has to say, and then will begin preparing to send their federal exemption application, which will include more community consultation.

“We would need to go back into the community and start talking about locations.”

She said from the previous consultations they’ve held, has provided some good information from citizens. She said Turning Point has lots of desire to talk to folks if they want to learn more or have any questions about harm reduction in general.

carlie.connolly@reddeerexpress.com

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