Supervised drug consumption sites in Red Deer to be discussed

Nine public meetings are set for coming weeks

Members of the community will have a chance to discuss and hear dialogue on supervised consumption services.

Hosted by Turning Point Society of Central Alberta in conjunction with the Red Deer Coalition on the Opioid Crisis, there will be a series of nine community engagement sessions held throughout Red Deer to give people ample opportunity to come out and address any concerns they may have.

Turning Point Society was designated as the project lead and a Red Deer Coalition on the Opioid Crisis was formed to undertake a needs assessment for a supervised consumption service in the City.

“The purpose of the community engagement sessions is both for us to be able to inform the public or anybody who is interested about the process of the Needs Assessment and what the Red Deer data is showing so far in regards to the survey that the clients have been doing,” said Sarah Fleck, interim operations manager of Turning Point.

She said it’s also to have the community members have a forum where they’re able to have a dialogue with them and ask questions, hopefully dispelling some myths they may have about the possibility of supervised consumption servicing.

“We really wanted to give everybody an opportunity to come, and we’re keeping them (the sessions) really small, so we’re maxing each session out at 15 people, and the reason for that is just to ensure that we have a lot of time for one-on-one questions and answers for people,” she said.

Fleck said what the event is mostly doing is increasing Turning Point’s transparency.

“We don’t want something being done in the community that people are unaware of or find out after the fact, so it’s partly just about inclusion of the community because we know, and all the research indicates that a supervised consumption service actually improves community safety through the decrease of crime rates in the surrounding areas.”

She said they want to go over that with the community and let them know that the service will help save lives for people who are using drugs along with having substantial benefits to the community as well.

“The second part is we do bring all the concerns and we do include all of the concerns that are raised when we present our final report in September to Alberta Health.”

After the final report is written (due Sept. 30th), Turning Point will submit a copy of that to council with the City of Red Deer, who will then review it and have a letter of opinion by Dec. 31st.

The first community discussion session will be held Aug. 8th from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Red Deer Public Library’s downtown branch.

Eight other sessions will take place as follows: Aug. 9th from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Red Deer College, Aug. 10th from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Collicutt Centre, Aug. 15th from 6 to 8 p.m. at RDC, Aug. 16th from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Red Deer Public Library’s downtown branch, Aug. 17th from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Alberta Health Services (Johnstone Crossing), Aug. 22nd from 6 to 8 p.m. at Alberta Health Services (Johnstone Crossing), Aug. 23rd from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Collicutt Centre and Aug. 24th from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Red Deer Public Library’s downtown branch.

Fleck and the project consultant with Turning Point will be talking, along with a member of the Alberta Health Services team that sits on the Coalition.

A client with lived experience, who has used naloxone, will also be talking.

There will then be break-out sessions so people will have the chance to have one-on-one dialogue to ask questions and take part in discussions.

Attendance is pre-registration only. To enrol, email scsc@turningpoint-ca.org.