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Ward 8 News: Saving Lives in Ward 8 - Safe Comsumption Site at Sheldon Chumir

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Ward 8 official website
Sheldon Chumir
By now many residents of the Beltline have heard the news of a proposal to open safe consumption site at the Sheldon Chumir Health Centre. First I want to talk about why we need a safe consumption site and then I want to let everyone know the details of the consultation that will be taking place with the community over the coming months.
 We are facing a serious health crisis that needs health-focused solutions. Over 150 Calgarians died of overdoses last year and we are headed down a similar path this year with over 50 overdose deaths in 2017 already. There are already unofficial consumptions sites throughout the Beltline and Ward 8 – whether it’s back alleys, public restrooms, or parks. Providing a safe and supervised location that ensures medical professionals are on hand, clean needles are distributed, and, most importantly, where access to further help with their addiction is available is crucial in dealing with this crisis. We know that supervised consumption sites are most effective when paired with mental health services, housing supports, treatment programs, as well as other health and social services. A lot of these services are already offered by the Chumir Centre making it an optimal location. Safe consumption sites in other cities have been shown to not only save lives and improve health and reduce long term addiction, they have also been shown to have no increase in drug use or criminal activity in the areas where they are based.
We can’t arrest our way out this health epidemic. There has to be a complete strategy of prevention, harm reduction, treatment, as well as enforcement. The Calgary Police Service (CPS) believes this site will be a crucial tool in fighting this crisis as they are simultaneously focused on cutting off the illegal supply of these drugs. The CPS will target drug trafficking and those who prey on vulnerable, addicted people. There will be no tolerance for drug trafficking to those who are seeking assistance through these services.  This crisis is a tragedy that is affecting thousands of families across this city, Calgary Police and Alberta Health Services are in agreement – this the best path forward. At the end of the day we have to keep in mind that a safe consumption site will save lives. In the coming weeks AHS will be sending out postcards and emails to residents and businesses within a two-kilometre radius of the Chumir Centre. The postcards will be asking people if they are interested in small group discussions where feedback will be gathered in a discrete and confidential setting. The specific dates and times for these sessions are not set, but are expected to begin in the end of July. Sessions will be approximately two hours long with presentations from AHS at the beginning detailing the nature of a safe consumption site. Participants will then be asked to provide feedback on what they believe the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed space are.
This is a tough and complicated subject and I wish there wasn’t a need for sites like this. However, the consensus between the health community, Provincial Government and the Calgary Police Service makes it clear that this is necessary and I trust their expertise. I encourage everyone who lives in the Beltline to participate in the consultations and to give your honest feedback. We cannot begin to solve the opioid crisis without taking some brave steps. If this can save lives and help people get back on the right track, while at the same time not increasing or encouraging criminal activity, then I feel it’s the right thing to do.
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to reach out to my office at ward08@calgary.ca.

 
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.

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