City council passed first reading for a license bylaw amendment related to mobile supervised consumption services during a special meeting Tuesday.
Supervised consumption services provide a place where people can use controlled substances in a monitored hygienic environment, and are part of the federal and provincial strategies to reduce harm from opioids and other substances.
The bylaw amendments outline a definition for what constitutes mobile supervised consumption services, as well as specified locations which include the hospital (3942 50A Ave.), P9 Parking Lot (4618 50th Ave.), Safe Harbour (5246 53 Ave.), Bettensons Parking Lot (4310, 4320, 4322 & 4348 52nd Ave.) and the Old Parks Building (4934 54th Ave.)
A mobile service is a service provided in a mobile unit, typically a recreational vehicle, council was told.
Services are provided at a temporary location, either on private or public parking lot, with the unit moving daily.
Mobile supervised consumption services are in operation in other cities throughout Canada including Montreal, Kamloops and Kelowna.
Here in Red Deer, a prior resolution had directed administration to prepare an amendment to the license bylaw to include a definition of ‘mobile supervised consumption services’ and subsequent regulations.
“We have a beast that is ravaging Red Deer. We have a beast that is ravaging Alberta and Canada. It’s time for us to address the beast,” said Councillor Ken Johnston.
“It’s not only taking lives and harming public health, but it’s chewing up resources in our hospitals, our EMS, our law enforcement – et cetera. This is a proven way of addressing the beast,” he said.
Figuring out exact mobile unit sites in the City – plus the ironing out of other details – will take place during second and third reading at the May 28th council meeting.
There is no public hearing required to amend the license bylaw.
However, when a provider submits an application to operate a mobile supervised consumption services unit, the applicant is required to notify property owners and occupants located within 100m of the proposed site prior to acceptance of any application.
“Ultimately, citizens are notified by the applicant as a mechanism to influence the terms and conditions of the license to operate. This may include everything from hours of operation to anything else in the public interest,” said Erin Stuart, inspection and licensing manager for the City of Red Deer.
Looking forward, residents can provide written comment by May 19th for inclusion on the May 28th council agenda.
As mentioned, second and third reading may be considered at the May 28th council meeting.
However, according to the City, approval of an amended bylaw does not assume the introduction of mobile supervised consumption services in Red Deer.
It does however, ensure there are definitions and regulations as to what, how and where this type of business operates.
If approved, the proposed license fee is $120 per year and would require an annual renewal.
“The City’s involvement in implementing a supervised mobile consumption service in Red Deer is ensuring the proper bylaws are set so an external agency can operate and manage the service,” said Stuart.
“Along with requiring approval from the City, the operating agency will require federal exemptions for each mobile site.”