Friday, June 24, 2022

Lethbridge Mayor, Councillor Hyggen respond to provincial SCS report

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Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman says he welcomes this week’s report from the Supervised Consumption Site (SCS) Review Panel.

The report was very critical of the Lethbridge facility, specifically pointing to concerns around how the facility is operated. Spearman, though says it’s up to ARCHES, the organization which runs the local SCS, to respond to those.

As for what happens next, Spearman says City Council is waiting to see what the provincial government will do. “My understanding is they (the government) will be reviewing on a city-by-city basis now that the report is available. We will work with them to identify what resources we need. We agree this needs to be a four pillar approach.”

Those pillars include harm reduction, prevention, enforcement, and treatment.

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Spearman says Council will continue to work with the provincial government to find a way forward. He stressed Thursday afternoon this is the number one issue that needs to be resolved in the community. “We can’t can do this alone in the City of Lethbridge. We are responsible for one of those four pillars and that’s the enforcement. We need to make sure the other three pillars are being addressed and I think what I’m hearing the province say is exactly the same thing.”

Meanwhile one member of Lethbridge City Council says he’s happy to finally see the long-awaited report into supervised consumption sites.

Blaine Hyggen has been very vocal about the impacts the SCS has had on the community and business in the area. The report talks about increased needle debris and deteriorating public safety around the sites being significant concerns.

Hyggen says it’s pretty clear things can’t stay as they are. “After reading that document it appears there will definitely be some changes. I don’t know what they will be, but it’s obvious something needs to be done.”

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Hyggen notes he understands there are different views when it comes to these SCS facilities. He is very pleased the panel listened to everyone who wanted a say, not just those suffering from addictions. “We want to make sure we are compassionate, but yet still making sure we’re listening to the other citizens of the community who are not addicted, but yet feeling the issues and the push back from this.”

In the release of its report, the Alberta government says 16,831 individuals and 440 businesses submitted feedback to the committee through an online survey.  About 1,800 people attended the town halls in Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Grande Prairie.

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