June 22nd, 2024

Rumoured location of safe consumption site comes with too much potential harm

By Letter to the Editor on August 15, 2018.

Lately, there has been extensive discussion regard the proposed safe consumption site for Medicine Hat. Based upon the rumours, the site is to be located in the former Captain’s Cabin pub. It is my understanding that the site must be approved by Health Canada, and the local community has no say in the location. Further, these are taking the appearance on of being a sanctuary, where the police cannot go to arrest someone who has outstanding warrants.

In looking at this location, I believe that it’s not a suitable one.

Within two blocks of the former pub, there are two locations where there are large groups of children found — St Louis School and on North Railway there is a dance studio which is also licensed as a school. My understanding is that they have over 300 students, of which many are children.

Under the proposed cannabis legislation, you could not locate a cannabis store there, so similarly there should be legislation to prevent the safe injection site here.

Within the same complex as the proposed safe consumption site, a service club has their facility, where they hold functions and also rent it out for weddings and other private functions. So within the same building, we have a licensed bar. On the same block as the pub, on the side street, we find the Medicine Hat Legion, again with a licensed bar. I understand that cannabis stores cannot be located close to bars. Who will provide security to prevent the safe injection site users from entering these private facilities? The site in Lethbridge has had to hire a security firm and I understand that this has not been overly successful.

In the surrounding area, there are several commercial businesses. Tim Hortons is located across the lane from this building open 24/7 with the patrons ranging in age from babies in their mother’s arms to children to senior citizens. Other commercial businesses are located within several blocks which provide various services with regular public cliental. In the Medicine Hat News on Aug. 8 there was an article (“Business owner in Lethbridge says safe consumption site negatively impacting neighbouring community”) about the negative impact that the safe injection facility in Lethbridge is having on the neighbourhood and local businesses. The question arises who will protect both the patrons of these businesses and their staff. If a child picks up a used needle and stabs themselves, outside a business, would the business be liable or the safe consumption site?

Also nearby this proposed safe consumption site, down North Railway Street is the Champion Centre, which helps people by providing some meals, some clothing, counselling and some accommodations. In the past there has been problems with alcohol. With the proposed safe consumption site so close, there will be problems with people being high resulting in major disruptions to the patrons of this facility, and police involvement.

In conclusion, I feel that the proposed safe consumption site should not be located in the “rumoured” location of the old Captain’s Cabin Pub. Yes, safe consumption sites do save lives, but at what cost to the local community and the public. This rumoured location has the potential to do harm to many, including innocent children. I cannot suggest a location for this safe consumption site, as the potential harm that accompanies them will affect the local neighbourhood, and this must be weighed against the good that they do.

Mike Quinn

Medicine Hat

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