A new Red Deer Alcohol and Drug Strategy that puts a plan in place to help combat the issue has been tabled by Red Deer City council.
Council tabled the proposed strategy for up to four weeks to find out more information about what it is that those behind the strategy are looking for from them.
“I refer back to the Plan to End Homelessness because it is a similar complexity. Are we ever going to end addictions? It’s everywhere, but what I would like the public to see, just like the Plan to End Homelessness, was that Red Deer can talk about this, Red Deer will bring this out, we’ll highlight it and have conversations. We’ll work together as the community that we say we are and really think hard and carefully and deliberately in what we’re doing about it,” said Kath Hoffman, co-chair of the Central Alberta Addictions Consortium. “We’re not afraid of the conversations. Red Deer shines a spotlight on those complex social issues that sometimes live under a rock.”
Councillor Ken Johnston introduced the tabling motion.
“I am struggling with this motion. I would respectfully ask that council table this item for further review, further discussion, further deliberation,” he said.
Hoffman said the Red Deer Alcohol and Drug Strategy is an important document for the City.
“It means Red Deer has put on paper, a snapshot of our community currently and where we would like it to be in regards to services and supports for people who are struggling with addiction,” said Hoffman. “Before the strategy, even though we are a small town, we didn’t really have a framework, we all knew what we were doing in our own little worlds, but what the drug strategy does is it draws attention to the particular issue, it gives us an opportunity to highlight new research and really work collaboratively with the rest of the community because that is what will work when it comes to addiction.
“We all know somebody who is addicted – it affects all of us – so if we can work together, all of us, then we can get somewhere.”
Included in the Red Deer Alcohol and Drug Strategy is the suggestion of a drug court in the City.
“We would love to see a drug court in Red Deer. We are wasting a lot of resources. We’d also like to see a mental health court too. We think of addiction as a social issue rather than the very public health issue that it is. Edmonton and Calgary have had fantastic results with their drug courts.”
Hoffman added she was not surprised that the proposed document was tabled.
“I’m convinced that council is just not going to gloss over something, they want a clear understanding and we want that too,” she said. “I know that they want recommendations, but we need the community to help us with that. We are a little addictions consortium that was tasked to build a framework and we did that and we need the rest of the community to help us talk about recommendations.
“I know when council wraps their heads around the framework, they are going to have a communication tool. I know they get talked to a lot about the addiction problems in the community and what they are doing about it. They are going to be able to say that they have this drug strategy and that they have people working hard to do that.”
The proposed Red Deer Alcohol and Drug Strategy will come back to council in up to four weeks’ time.