Calgary

Alberta releases dates, locations of supervised consumption site town halls

Alberta has released details of planned public engagement sessions for the province's supervised consumption site review.

All sessions will be held in September in areas with either currently operating or proposed sites

Alberta is holding a serious of public engagement sessions across the province as part of its supervised consumption site review. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Alberta has released details of planned public engagement sessions for the province's supervised consumption site review.

The review will look at the social and economic impacts of current sites, and is holding engagement sessions in areas with either currently operating or proposed sites.

Here's the list of sessions:

  • Medicine Hat: Sept. 3, 5 to 9 p.m. at Heritage Ballrooms A and B, HomeStay Inn and Suites, 954 Seventh Street S.W.
  • Lethbridge: Sept. 4 and Sept 5, 5 to 9 p.m. at Grand Ballroom, Coast Lethbridge Hotel and Conference Centre, 526 Mayor Magrath Drive South.
  • Red Deer: Sept. 10, 5 to 9 p.m. at Santano Room, Cambridge Red Deer Hotel and Conference Centre, 3310 50th Avenue.
  • Calgary: Sept. 11 and Sept. 12, 5 to 9 p.m., at Boyce Theatre, BMO Centre, 1410 Olympic Way S.E.
  • Grande Prairie: Sept. 17, 5 to 9 p.m., at Grande Ballroom, Pomeroy Hotel and Conference Centre, 11633 100th Street.
  • Edmonton: Sept. 18 and Sept. 19, 5 to 9 p.m., at Wildrose Ballrooms 2 and 3, Edmonton Inn and Conference Centre, 11830 Kingsway Avenue N.W.

The province's website says the committee will hear feedback on topics including crime rates, needle debris, residential property values and social disorder complaints. 

Panel members include Edmonton's former police chief, a mother who lost her son to a fentanyl overdose, and addictions specialists.

However, it doesn't include any members from south of Calgary, despite Lethbridge reportedly having the busiest supervised consumption site in North America.

Associate Minister of Addiction and Mental Health Jason Luan has said the panel also won't be taking into consideration evidence for or against the efficacy of the consumption sites at curbing drug addiction. The associate minister said that's because the evidence is already well established that the facilities do play a role in harm reduction.

Luan has drawn fire recently for some of his comments about addiction, with the Opposition calling for him to be removed from his portfolio.

On Friday, Luan said he was worried the distribution of naloxone kits might be enabling greater drug use — a suggestion strongly opposed by a top Calgary medical professional.

And last month, he deleted a tweet wondering if the research supporting supervised consumption sites was funded by big pharma.

Consumption site staff across Alberta have responded to more than 4,300 overdoses and have a 100 per cent success rate at reversing overdoses, according to a recent report compiled by the Alberta Community Council on HIV.

Consumption sites offer a supervised, clean location to consume illegal substances, as well as emergency medical care, education on the harms of drug use, and referrals to other social services.

Detractors argue sites have led to an increase in social disorder or encourage drug use, while proponents say the sites have saved lives and are an effective form of harm-reduction.

The review will focus on ways to address socio-economic impacts of existing sites, inform decisions around the establishment of future sites and inform provincial policy on whether or not sites should receive funding.

Its findings are expected to be submitted to government later this fall.

You can pre-register for the sessions, or submit written feedback online. Feedback can also be sent to scsreview@gov.ab.ca.