Unsanctioned supervised consumption site continues to operate in downtown Lethbridge
The drug consumption tent set up in Galt Gardens. Photo provided by the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society,
The Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society (LOPS) continues to operate in Galt Gardens as the first unsanctioned service of its kind in Alberta.
A handful of former ARCHES employees and clients formed the society back in September with the mission of keeping their neighbours, friends and loved ones alive.
Kaley Ann Boudoin is one of those founding members.
She says the group continues to be on the receiving end of bylaw tickets for setting up their tent as well as failure to remove the tent when directed.
“We were being told it’s because of our tent structure and the bylaw for setting up a tent is exempted for rescue personnel and I don’t know what you would call overdose response other than rescue personnel,” Boudoin told the Southern Alberta Council of Public Affairs (SACPA) last week.
Boudoin says LOPS plans to contest those tickets in court.
She also told the SAPCA presentation that the group is currently in the process of applying for a legal exemption with Health Canada, but the process takes time and the needs of the community are immediate.
The pop-up supervised consumption site has not been met with support by some, including the UCP government, which said the tent is illegal and asked by the City of Lethbridge and Lethbridge Police to shut it down two months ago.
Boudoin says this tent site is a place for people to go to use safely. “Most of them don’t have homes or spaces to go to. It’s going to be in the allies. That’s what LOPS is doing. Here’s a tent where we have places to dispose of drug debris.”
She says she would love to see more effort come forward to address the drug use problem.
Back in mid-summer, the province pulled funding from ARCHES after an audit found $1.6 million in unaccounted for public funds. The government set up a mobile SCS outside the shelter, however advocates say many clients don’t feel comfortable using that facility and it doesn’t enough capacity.