Province asks police to halt Lethbridge safe consumption site

Harm reduction advocates in Lethbridge set up an unsanctioned safe consumption site after the provincial government shut down the city

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The site, operated by the AIDS Outreach Community Harm Reduction Education Support Society (ARCHES) closed permanently this month.

A mobile overdose prevention site began operations in its wake with the ability to serve just a fraction of people compared to the ARCHES facility.

Luan, associate minister for mental health and addictions, said the mobile site is “adequate” and the new, unauthorized service needs to go.

“Alberta’s government provides a legal, sanctioned overdose prevention site a block away from this location, with adequate capacity for the community,” said Luan in a statement.

“This illegal site contravenes the Criminal Code of Canada and we expect the City of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Police Service to enforce the law.”

Slaney, previously an employee of ARCHES, said that’s not the case. He said the government’s mobile supervised consumption service isn’t hospitable to users because of its location, limited capacity and reports of a “hostile attitude” from staff to clients.

Harm reduction advocates in Lethbridge set up an unsanctioned safe consumption site after the provincial government shut down the city’s only sanctioned site. Photo by KaleyAnn Beaudoin /Submitted

He said many people have gravitated to Galt Gardens, an inner-city park in Lethbridge, which is the location of the new overdose prevention site.

On Friday, there were four people who used substances under supervision in the tent. No one overdosed.

“We don’t have exact stats on where overdoses happen but in the surveillance report, it does release the heat map of the area and the heat map showed the park is a swath of bright red and a sea of yellows and green,” said Slaney.

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