On Monday the 19th, Lethbridge councillor Blaine Hyggen intends to call a vote in city council that would put severe restrictions on ARCHES, the non-profit which oversees Lethbridge’s safe consumption sites, and which would also call on the provincial government to suspend funding for these sites.
These sites, right now, are saving lives. Everyone knows the Lethbridge is one of the cities in Canada hit hardest by fentanyl and the opioid drug crisis. They average over 650 visits per day and have already prevented or reversed a staggering number of overdoses.
We know many people are dissatisfied with Alberta’s response to this horrible drug crisis. And safe consumption sites, by themselves, are not solving this problem on their own. But the problem is that we’re not doing enough to solve this problem--taking away one of the few things we are doing is a step in the wrong direction.
Closing these sites will mean more people are instead dealt with by police, ambulances, and hospitals--much more expensive than providing preventative care.
Closing these sites will mean that needle drug use which is right now happening in a closed and safe environment will be pushed out onto the streets.
Closing these sites will mean that the work that nurses and healthcare workers are doing to build relationships and get people into treatment will be wasted.
And most of all--closing these sites will mean that people in Lethbridge will die. I know this is a very dramatic statement, but we’re not exaggerating. People who are being saved from overdoses today will not be saved in the future if Councillor Hyggen gets these sites defunded and closed.
Lethbridge city council is holding consultations briefly on this which means you have a chance to speak up before council makes this decision.
They’re taking submissions until the end of Monday, August 12 so you don’t have long to get their attention.
Please take a moment to send a letter supporting ARCHES to your mayor and council before it’s too late.