On Dec. 4th, City council held a special council meeting, examining locations for provincial supervised consumption services.
City council approved first reading of a proposed land use bylaw with six potential sites considered for supervised consumption services in Red Deer.
“I sense that there’s a strong openness on council’s part particularly around location and we need to hear from our public on that because obviously it’s something of significant public interest for many reasons,” said Mayor Tara Veer.
Supervised consumption service sites are already operating in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge.
These sites are legally-sanctioned, medically-supervised facilities, aimed at harm reduction. The focus of supervised consumption services is to allow for people who use drugs to do so safely and securely in the presence of a health-care professional, without fear of arrest or accidental overdose.
While federal and provincial legislation dictates much of what happens, the amended land use bylaw provides opportunities for citizen input at the public hearing stage in the process.
City council gave first reading to a proposed bylaw amendment to have supervised consumption services as a discretionary use on various sites.
The six sites currently being considered are the hospital (3942 50A Ave.), Turning Point (4611-50th Ave.) Safe Harbour (5256 and 5246 53rd Ave.) and the three public health clinics (300 Jordan Parkway, 2845 Bremner Avenue, and 4755 49th St.)
Council is proposed as the development authority for development permit applications.
Veer said she had some reservations about adding the amendment, which were the three public health clinics.
“I did express reluctance on the floor of adding those clinic locations particularly because they are directly adjacent to established residential neighbourhoods,” she said.
Throughout the deliberations, many councillors weighed in with their thoughts, and there was some frustration around the mixed messaging from the province.
“Without full information we really are trying to respond to an issue without the full information that we’ve requested from the province. They still have not provided us with the needs assessment that we are hoping to receive,” said Veer.
All property owners and citizens living within 100 metres will be notified of a public hearing before council on Dec. 19th.
Council will then consider information from the public hearing and potentially give final readings to a bylaw amendment.