Turning Point recently released a letter to the public outlining their displeasure regarding City council’s decision to eliminate Turning Point as a potential location for Supervised Consumption Services.
Red Deer City council recently made the choice to eliminate Turning Point as a potential location after the second reading of a bylaw hearing ended in a 6-3 decision against Turning Point.
The decision was preceded by a public hearing which saw several residents voicing both in favour, and against Turning Point as a potential location.
“The decision they made to leave the hospital as the only site was not based in research or evidence nor shaped by best practice and has created a myriad of issues not only for us at Turning Point but for the entire community,” a letter written by Turning Point Executive Director Stacey Carmichael and Turning Point Board Chair Kaylynn Milgate stated.
The letter went on to outline several reasons why Turning Point felt that council’s decision was misguided, including that council felt that since SCS addresses a health concern, it should be at a health facility like the hospital.
“Turning Point has been working in the community of Red Deer for almost 30 years, responding to health issues including HIV/AIDS and addiction. Turning Point employs a variety of staff, including registered nurses and like many other harm reduction agencies across Alberta and Canada, are qualified and prepared to provide supervised consumption services,” the letter stated.
Another issue addressed by the letter was the issue of crime around SCS affecting businesses in the downtown core.
“This argument is not evidence-based and, in fact, global research spanning decades has consistently demonstrated that SCS not only saves lives but reduces crime, public disorder, public injection and discarded syringes in the areas where they operate,” the letter stated.
The letter also addressed the issue of the current Turning Point location requiring substantial structural improvements. Turning Point said the required renovations would have added curb appeal to passers-by and would also allow them to provide wrap-around services for clients.
“Turning Point has funded and completed architectural plans and we have confirmed that our location is appropriate for renovations that would provide a comprehensive SCS,” the letter stated.
The letter also pointed out that council’s suggestion of a mobile SCS unit would be inadequate.
“Based on the conducted needs assessment, research, existing community services and municipal demographics, the best option for Red Deer is the integrated model at Turning Point. A mobile option will not provide the same benefits to the service participants and community safety that a fixed site would,” the letter stated.
The letter further stated that the Alberta Government, Alberta Health and AHS are being unfairly represented by City council.
“The Alberta Government, Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services aren’t doing this to our community, they are doing it for our community,” the letter stated.
At this time, and SCS recommendation has not been made by the Province of Alberta and a request for federal exemption has not been submitted for the site.
Turning Point, according to the letter, has poured resources into SCS that are now going to waste.
“We invested in research and site plans equalling thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours’ work by professionals, and input from hundreds of potential service users and community members. These investments were made with the hope that we could save lives and make Red Deer a better place for everyone through offering a SCS,” the letter stated.
The letter stated that Turning Point will continue to work with community partners, including the City of Red Deer. They will not, however, operate a SCS that is not based in best practice.
“For now Turning Point will continue to be here, doing what we do and trying the best we can,” the letter stated.