The City of Red Deer has approved a location for a supervised consumption site in the city.

At the November 26th council meeting, council approved an application to amend the Land Use Bylaw for the site, located at 5233 54th Avenue, which will be operated by Turning Point, the local charity that specializes in preventing sexually transmitted and blood borne infections.

Stacey Carmichael is the Executive Director of Turning Point, says they are not at the development permit stage yet, because they are a number of conditions and regulations they must follow in order to open the site.

“So far we know that, of course, security is important in and around the site, just being accountable for our operations and making sure everyone is safe and the community impact is mitigated.”

More of those conditions will be discussed at their next council meeting on December 10th.

This topic has been a controversial and polarizing one for almost every community that has discussed supervised or safe consumption sites, but as Carmichael says, it's been proven that these sites go a long way at reducing harm for not only the drug users but for the community at large as well.

“I think that the community that is surrounding it is already dealing with some concerns, and this is a really opportunity to help alleviate some of that. I get that people are concerned but I’m also quite certain that people will be pleasantly surprised with the end result. I don’t know how giving folks a place to be safe and get connected and to be, can be a negative for anybody.”

The approval does come with conditions, such as requiring a monitored digital security system as well as in-person security, and design elements that incorporate crime prevention methods through environmental design.

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says this is just one step in helping to reduce the harmful impact illicit drug use can have on a community.

“The topic of supervised consumption has been a polarizing issue in our community, and City Council will continue to petition the Province to look beyond harm reduction and develop an overall response to the drug and health crisis with a focus on a four-pillar approach; prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement. The City expects Alberta Health Services to take on a direct role in responding to our communities challenges, versus contracting this work out to multiple agencies with limited resources”.

More of those conditions will be discussed at their next council meeting on December 10th.

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