City council approves development permit for Supervised Consumption Site

Business Bylaw Amendments discussed as well

City council approved a development permit for the Turning Point-operated Supervised Consumption Site (SCS) at 5233 – 54th Ave. during the regular meeting Monday evening.

Turning Point had applied for a development permit (DP) for the site, which was approved for SCS services in late November – pending the approval of a development permit with a number of conditions.

Stacey Carmichael, executive director of Turning Point, was pleased with the progress made, and hopes to see the site up and running as soon as possible.

“I feel like we are moving in the right direction,” she said. “We want to move ahead quickly. I suppose it will depend on the business license and building permit processes and how quickly they could get those renovations done,” she said. “It’s imperative we have something up and running sooner rather than later for sure. The overdose prevention site (OPS) is reaching capacity and we know it’s not meeting the needs of everyone in the community.”

The permit includes the relocation of Turning Point programs and operations from their current location to the new site. This will include areas for reception, consumption and observation.

Carmichael said additions to the facility would likely be needed down the road as well.

“That’s our plan to put an addition on. We cannot run all of our programming out of there including the supervised consumption service – not a lot of room for storage and administration.”

Meanwhile, amendments to the development permit included setting up a 1.5 m see-through fence and also that the permit would include a span for seven years before being up for renewal.

Council had passed second and third reading for a land use bylaw amendment granting the green light for a supervised consumption site last month.

At the time, an amendment was added that the SCS must have a monitored internal and external digital camera security system and personnel to perform regular surveillance during hours of operation.

Another amendment passed speaks to complying with design elements that incorporate CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) principles.

“This is their opportunity to deliver on the trust that the community has placed in them, to do the work of harm reduction and also to do the work of neighbourhood relations and being, I think, a force that will show that they deserve the trust we’ve put in them and that the community has put in them,” said Coun. Ken Johnston.

“I think there is an opportunity for that centre to succeed with the work that Turning Point will put into it and with the work council has put into it,” he said.

Supervised consumption sites provide a place where people can use previously-obtained drugs in a monitored, hygienic environment to reduce harm and overdose death caused by substance use while offering additional services such as counselling, social work and opioid-dependency treatment.

In a letter to council, Turning Point officials pointed out that security implements include a 24-hour onsite video surveillance, swipe card access to the consumption space and individual staff panic buttons.

“There is also a designated position, the Safety Coordinator, whose main role is to ensure the SCS is a safe place for staff, service users and the community. The Safety Coordinator will be on site during operating hours to help reduce loitering and manage safety and security both inside and outside of the SCS.”

Current programs based at Turning Point include a women’s program, health promotion, harm reduction, rural outreach, overdose prevention programs, Nightreach and an overdose prevention site.

Council also approved second reading of the Business License Bylaw amendment for the site, with third reading expected to be reviewed and approved in January.

So far, two amendments were added including the clean-up of garbage and needles for a space of 150 m around the site and there will also be a liaison position that will work with both the City and public regarding any concerns.

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