February 20th, 2019

Red Deer crime down since drug site opens

By GILLIAN SLADE on February 12, 2019.

NEWS PHOTO EMMA BENNETT
The location for a supervised consumption site is at 502 South Railway Street. Red Deer RCMP report a reduction in crime in the city since an overdose prevention site, similar to a supervised consumption site, opened in the central Alberta city in the fall.

gslade@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNGillianSlade

Red Deer has seen a reduction in crime even though a consumption site opened there last fall, according to a recent RCMP report.

Robberies decreased by 25 per cent, with 115 occurring in the final quarter of 2018 compared to an all time high of 172 in 2016. Theft under $5,000 decreased by 23 per cent, the lowest in five years. Sexual assaults continued to increase by 20 per cent but theft of motor vehicles decreased by 34 per cent. Break and enters decreased 12 per cent and mischief to property decreased by 37 per cent.

The numbers relate to the whole city. There are no numbers specifically for the consumption site area, said Paul Goranson, director of protective services for the city of Red Deer.

After a recent report of crime increasing around Calgary’s supervised consumption site, Goranson specifically asked the RCMP about Red Deer’s situation.

“They basically said they haven’t seen a significant change from what was happening there before,” said Goranson. “They monitor that area fairly closely and they have for some time.”

RELATED: Health Canada exemption needed for supervised consumption but not for overdose prevention sites

Red Deer’s overdose prevention site opened in October 2018 in an Atco trailer positioned near other services in the area. The Atco trailer was previously used for supervised consumption in Calgary. When the Calgary site switched to a permanent location the trailer was moved to Red Deer, said Goranson.

“We have really not seen much shift in there,” Goranson said. “I think one of the reasons for that is there’s other social services, support services in that area and have been for some time.

“The clientele has been there for some time. It’s a temporary location right now. We haven’t seen any significant difference one way or another.”

There is a difference between overdose prevention in Red Deer and the supervised consumption proposed for Medicine Hat. An overdose prevention site does not need a Health Canada exemption certificate.

Goranson says Red Deer is in the process of getting a permanent site approved in the same vicinity as its overdose prevention.

“I don’t know if it’s been there long enough to say what the trend’s going to be,” said Goranson. “We can just comment on what we’ve experienced so far.”

The RCMP’s crime report indicates strategies employed to reduce crime in the area. They targeted repeat offenders and crime hot spots, conducting 376 checks on targeted people and 971 checks on crime hot spots between Oct. 11, 2018 and Jan. 6, 2019.

A community meeting about Medicine Hat’s site is taking place Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Beveridge Landmark Events. The public is invited to attend.

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