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Nenshi calls for more injection sites in Calgary

Despite a report saying safe needle injection sites in Alberta are in “chaos”, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is calling for more of the centres in his city.

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Despite a report saying safe needle injection sites in Alberta are in “chaos”, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is calling for more of the centres in his city.

“Helping people get healthy starts with keeping people alive. Calgary needs more locations and a better model to ensure treatment is available to people the moment they’re ready. Provincial funding to alleviate social disorder is also key.” Nenshi tweeted.

A report released Friday by a government-government appointed panel “found serious problems with supervised consumption services as they are currently being operated.”

“This report is a wake-up call for Alberta. Every one of us deserves to feel safe in our communities, and every Albertan struggling with addiction should be able to access the supports they need. We will consider this report, and all other relevant evidence, as we develop a comprehensive, long-term approach that works,” said Associate Minister of Mental Health an Addictions Jason Laun said.

But despite there being a “system of chaos” with Alberta’s seven injection sites, Nenshi called for more in Calgary. There is currently one in the city, located at the Sheldon Chumir health centre.

Neighbours in Calgary’s Beltline neighbourhood near the centre have reported an increase in crime in the area, which is now littered with dirty needles.

“The City is committed to doing its part to aid the continuum of care that those dealing with mental health and addictions issues require. I appreciate the Province’s commitment to transparency. We are looking forward to being active partners in any future decision making,” said Nenshi.

His response was met with anger from residents in the area.

“Put the facility in your back door you walk around with needles on your sidewalks @nenshi there has to be a better way to help drug addicts rather than feed the issue,” one resident called Sandy tweeted.

“Its always in someone elses neighborhood for these people. Unfortunately Sheldon chumir is in mine, and everyone here hates it,” tweeted another resident.

The report showed while no one has died in a safe injection site, deaths within 500 metres of one have gone up 64% to 46 since they opened.

The report talked about one site giving up to 500 needles a day to one client; children being pricked with discarded needles and human waste all around injection sites.

“There wasn’t a day that went by our team didn’t hear the word ‘feces,’” said Laun.

There were also incidents of site workers interfering with police trying to enforce the law.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Increased needle debris and deteriorating public safety around the sites were significant concerns raised during the town halls, through the surveys and in stakeholder meetings.
  • While there were no deaths recorded among people at the SCS sites, death rates in the immediate vicinity of the sites after the sites opened continued to increase along with province-wide rates of opioid deaths.
  • Opioid-related calls for emergency medical services also increased in the immediate vicinity following the opening of the sites.
  • Many people indicated they felt less safe in the areas surrounding the SCS sites after they opened.
  • Lack of focus on referrals to detoxification and treatment resources.
  • Inconsistent and often inaccurate classification of “overdose reversals.”
  • Substantial increases in the use of non-opioid substance use, specifically methamphetamines, leading to aggressive behaviour endangering public safety.

There are currently seven safe injection sites in Alberta – four in Edmonton, with Calgary, Lethbridge and Grande Prairie each having one.

The report said about 50% of site users are consuming meth, something which they weren’t designed to do.

The report said the Lethbridge site may be the busiest in the world and one of the costliest.

“While most of the other sites have a cost under $600 per unique client, the cost in Lethbridge is over five times that, at $3,270 per unique client. The Committee could not find any plausible explanation for this, and there was no mention of it by the Alberta Health management contact person who would have overseen this in the past.”

Crime in the area of the Lethbridge site was also mentioned by residents as a huge problem, with members of the government committee seeing it first hand.

“Committee members also observed what appeared to be drug trafficking
as well as prostitution.

“Another law enforcement officer stated that, ‘There has been attempts by the SCS staff to destroy video evidence. They had a pregnant lady have [a] miscarriage immediately after using their facility. They became offended when I asked what
their procedures were for pregnant women and filed a formal complaint.’”

Lethbridge residents also complained about needle garbage.

The committee noted one ARCHES representative said they give away 37,000 needles a month. The group claimed all but 400 had been accounted for.

“Given the directly observed residual level of needle debris around the site, however, this assertion does not appear plausible and appears to defy credulity.”

Numerous complaints were received by the Review Committee about how the Lethbridge site is operated.

“The Review Committee was also informed by ARCHES that it currently employs 174 persons working at the site. Putting this into context, at the time the Review Committee visited Lethbridge the site was seeing approximately 130-135 unique
users per day. At the same time, police in Lethbridge had 161 constables on staff.

“An ARCHES worker told the Committee that approximately 40 per cent of workers at the SCS are “addicts in recovery” themselves. There was no apparent concern about the associated occupational risk or relapse risk to those workers in recovery.”

The report will now go to the government who will decide what to do with each site on a city to city basis.

“I am open to how best make sense of this,” said Laun.’

The entire report can be read here.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Horgan leads NDP to majority government in B.C.

Preliminary results from Saturday’s election show the NDP turned its 41-seat minority into a 55-seat majority.

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John Horgan’s NDSP party now rules B.C. with a majority government.

Preliminary results from Saturday’s election show the NDP turned its 41-seat minority into a 55-seat majority.

More than 500,000 mail in ballots still have to be counted. Final results won’t be known for several weeks.

“B.C. has voted, and a majority has been called, but there are many many hundreds of thousands of votes yet to be counted,” Horgan said at a victory rally in Vancouver.

“While we wait for that final count to happen, I want to assure people that I’m going to keep the focus right where it belongs, on helping people get through this pandemic and making sure that they have the services that they need.”

“All British Columbians can sleep safely knowing that we’re going to do everything we can to keep them safe, healthy and secure.”

The Liberals won 29 seats and the Green party, three.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Kenney says Albertans may get ‘multi-issues’ referendum

The government has already committed to hold a referendum on equalization payments next October at the same time as municipal elections

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the UCP could have multiple referendum questions for voters next year.

The government has already committed to hold a referendum on equalization payments next October at the same time as municipal elections.

Speaking virtually to the UCP’s AGM on Saturday, Kenney said the party is also looking at adding other issues.

“I believe on the big consequential issues it’s right to go to the public,” kenney told 1,400 delegates who had signed up for the virtual convention.

He said a decision to get rid of Daylight Savings Time, a Senate election, constitutionally changing property rights and a provincial pension plan are some of the things Albertans may have a chance to vote on.

Kenney spent most of his speech hilighting UCP policies they have brought in, including scrapping the carbon tax and repealing Bill 6.

“We are one-third through our mandate and we have implemented two-thirds of our 261 election promises,” said Kenney.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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RCMP able to save ice-bound calf in northern B.C.

The on-duty police officer responded to the area and was able to locate the calf clearly in distress

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For a B.C. Mountie, it was a very moo-ving rescue.

On Tuesday morning, RCMP were told about a young calf that had fallen through ice, into a slough along Farrell Creek Road, north east of Hudson’s Hope, in northeastern B.C.

The on-duty police officer responded to the area and was able to locate the calf clearly in distress, said the RCMP in a release.

“It was obvious that the calf had been doing its best to stay afloat and was getting tired, however could not move forward or backwards due to the surrounding ice,” said the release.

“Thinking quickly, and using any means available to the officer, and some locals that had stopped to assist, the ice around the calf was broken. The very tired calf was able to be lassoed and brought to the edge and out of the slough to rest.”

When we suit up and start our shifts each day, we really never have any idea what our day on the front line will entail,” said Cpl. Rob Gardner.

The front line officer, who responded to the scene, did a great job thinking quickly and outside the box to work with some locals to break the ice and free the small calf. We’d like to thank all those who stopped to assist with this rescue.

The wet calf, who seemed un-injured during the ordeal.

Rescued calf. Courtesy RCMP

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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