By Kristy Koehler, August 19 2019—
The United Conservative Party has appointed an expert panel to evaluate the impact of supervised consumption sites.
The committee is set to “to evaluate the social and economic impacts of current and proposed supervised consumption sites” according to the government’s website. The scope of the committee will include crime rates, needle debris, complaints of social disorder, residential property values, business impacts and proposed solutions to address the impacts of the sites. Out of scope for the committee are the merits of supervised consumption sites as a harm reduction tool, supervised consumption services outside of the current or proposed sites as well as the utility of these services in each community.
”We’ve heard Albertans’ concerns about impacts on their homes, businesses and communities. We’ve chosen a panel of experts to listen to Albertans, review the evidence, and report back on their findings,” said Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions in a press release.
Supervised consumption sites provide a place for people to use drugs in a monitored environment and are largely lauded as an effective harm reduction tool. Calgary’s Supervised Consumption Site, the Sheldon M. Chumir Centre at 4 Street SW, offers additional services like counseling and addictions treatment, while also ensuring that needles are discarded safely.
In 2017, 733 people in Alberta died of opioid overdoses. Supervised consumption sites have Naloxone on hand as well as medical professionals to assist users who are at risk of overdosing.
The Alberta Health Services website reports on the activities and usage of the Sheldon Chumir SCS. They indicate an increase in users over time, with the number of visits per day rising from under 20 during their first week of operations in 2017 to more than 190 visits per day in July 2019. Almost 100,000 visits have been made to the SCS since it opened.
The Government of Alberta will be announcing dates and locations of public engagement sessions so local residents can provide feedback to the committee.