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UCP demand Lethbridge cops shut down drug injection site

The pop-up drug site operates on a nightly basis in a park that is the centre of the opioid abuse in the southern Alberta city.

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The provincial government is demanding Lethbridge police shut down an illegal safe injection site being operated in a tent.

The tent sprung up after a controversial Lethbridge safe drug consumption site shuttered its doors on Aug. 31 after the Alberta government cut its funding after an independent audit discovered a litany of problems including “financial irregularities.”

Now the pop-up drug site operates on a nightly basis in a park that is the centre of the opioid abuse in the southern Alberta city.

“Alberta’s government provides a legal, sanctioned overdose prevention site a block away from this location, with adequate capacity for the community, said associate minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan in a statement to the Western Standard.

“This illegal site contravenes the Criminal Code of Canada and we expect the City of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Police Service to enforce the law.”

ARCHES received up to 800 visits a day – one of the busiest supervised consumption sites in the world. Lethbridge, a city of 100,000, has the highest per-capita rate of opioid overdose deaths in Alberta.

The pop-up site is being run by the newly formed Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society, CBC reported.

The tent offer services for a couple of hours before packing up for the day. There is enough room for two people to inject drugs at a time.

ARCHES had received more than $14.4 million in taxpayer dollars over the past two years.

The government announced in July the accounting firm Deloitte found:

  • $1,617,094 unaccounted for due to missing documentation for expenditures from 2017 to 2018.
  • $13,000 of interest off ARCHES bank accounts was used to fund parties, staff retreats, entertainment and gift cards.
  • A senior executive’s compensation totalled $342,943 for calendar year 2019. This includes $70,672 in overtime for fiscal year 2019-20. The grant agreement allows for a salary of $80,000.  
  • The Everyone Comes Together (ECT) program staff salaries and benefits also exceeded the amount allocated by the grant agreement by $16,000.
  • The number of ARCHES employees is greater than allowed by the grant agreement.  ARCHES maintained up to 126 employees. However, the exact number could not be verified.
  • $4,301 spent on European travel for management to attend a conference in Portugal.
  • Thousands of dollars in unverifiable travel expenses, including trips charged to company credit cards but not recorded in the ledger.
  • A senior executive’s family member was hired, earning $9,900. The auditors could not locate a resume or personnel file to verify any qualifications.
  • $7,557 for management retreats, including meals and mileage where documentation for spending was unclear.
  • The grant agreement requires the organization to maintain the funding received from Alberta Health within a separate bank account; however, the audit revealed that it was comingled with other funding sources. As a result of ARCHES comingling their accounts, the auditors could not verify thousands of dollars of expenses.
  • Proper personal conflict of interest declarations were not recorded when related individuals or vendors were hired or utilized.
  • Vendors were repeatedly secured in secrecy with a lack of transparency and accountability.
  • No petty cash reconciliations have been completed.
  • $1,129 was used to buy gift cards for board members for The Keg, iTunes, Boston Pizza, Earls, Gap, Shell, Chapters, Cineplex, Amazon, Starbuck’s, Tim Hortons, MasterCard, and Bath and Bodyworks. The expense was recorded as “Gift cards – Board Members.”
  • $2,100 was spent on gift cards to The Oil Changer – a business owned by a senior executive’s spouse.
  • $2,205 was spent on a television with no receipt documentation to support the purchase.

The report has been passed on to police.

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