September 20th, 2019

Council rejects SCS motions


By Lethbridge Herald on August 19, 2019.

Councillor Blaine Hyggen speaks before the vote on his resolution regarding funding for the supervised consumption site during Monday's council meeting at city hall. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com
Lethbridge City Council rejected Coun. Blaine Hyggen’s motion to ask the province to prevent ARCHES from allowing needles to leave the supervised consumption site and to suspend funding to the SCS pending a provincial review.
The motion, co-sponsored by Hyggen, Coun. Ryan Parker and Coun. Joe Mauro, was defeated by a vote of 6-3 following a strenuous debate in a packed council chambers, with supporters and those opposed to the SCS present in the gallery and also in the overflow space in the city hall foyer.
Extra security and police officers were on hand to ensure order as the debate got underway, with Hyggen presenting the motion and asking for questions.
Hyggen and Mayor Chris Spearman clashed over what the mayor called Hyggen’s false information and unsourced references in his comments to introduce the motion, and in earlier comments Hyggen had made to the media leading up to the debate on Monday. Coun. Rob Miyashiro asked the co-sponsors of the motion, “Did you want our most vulnerable people in the city to die?” He asserted that is what would happen if the province eventually closed the SCS.
This drew a withering rebuke from Mauro who said, “Of course, no one here in this room wants anyone to die.”
Mauro then questioned if the SCS was actually saving lives in the end just because it happened to reverse five overdoses in a day for one particular addict, when the addict merely returned to do it all over again the next day.
Parker, who called in via phone-conferencing to take part in the debate, said the current SCS model was not working, and it was simply creating a marketplace for drug dealers and users to come together outside the building, and leading to increased crime in the city. He said by passing the motion council would be signalling clearly to the provincial government better solutions were needed to address the drug crisis in Lethbridge.
In the end, Coun. Jeff Coffman provided the voice of reason, cooling down the temperature in the room prior to the vote.
“I want to take the opportunity to thank Coun. Hyggen for bringing the motion forward,” he said. “I know he has taken an awful lot of critique and criticism for bringing this forward, but this is our job. If the community approaches any of us to bring this forward, this is actually doing your job. I know you (Hyggen) have taken a lot of crap and abuse over it, but you have done what the voters are actually electing you to do.”
Coffman put the consequences of having a divided community forward for council’s consideration.
“We seem to be a community that is losing empathy, empathy for those struggling with addictions, mental health and homelessness,” he said. “We are losing empathy for those who are invested in the community, dedicating themselves to producing goods and services, and creating a living. We are also starting to vilify people — we are starting to vilify people in the business community because they are frustrated, they are angry, they are worried. And we are vilifying a non-for-profit organization who is trying to do something during this crisis, and that really concerns me, because that is not the way a good community moves forward.”
Coffman said he was voting against the motion not because those with concerns about the SCS were entirely wrong, but rather because the province has already announced it will keep funding supervised consumption sites pending the province’s SCS panel report due out in September, making the motion redundant for the time being.
Hyggen said after the vote had concluded he was pleased everyone had their voices heard in the discussion, both on council and among those out on city hall lawn protesting prior to the council meeting.
“To see that today, and it does not matter what side you are on, to show democracy in action is amazing,” he said. “It was fantastic to see those people come out and stand up for what they believe.”
Spearman said what he takes away from Monday’s debate and protests outside city hall is the importance of coming together as a community to seek more resources from the province for supports beyond harm reduction, with all sides agreeing there was a crucial lack.
“We are hopefully going to unite and work together on the strategies to address the drug issue,” he said. “The new provincial consultation process was announced today; so I think what we have to do is provide a united input. We need to have people from the community participating in that. (This drug crisis) has impacted Lethbridge more than any other city. The challenge for the province is: Are they going to put the resources into this? How do they help us turn this around? I think the most expensive option is to do very little and allow addiction to continue to waste lives and raise the costs of health care, and go unabated for years. There has to be a strategy to address this issue and turn things around.”
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

Share this story:
<5

8 Responses to “Council rejects SCS motions”

  1. johnny57 says:

    A truly sad day for the hard working citizens of Lethbridge!

  2. Dennis Bremner says:

    It clearly shows you that who is running this city, the CCF was part of the Christian left and the Social Gospel movement and the NDP offspring continues with that agenda. So until we fire this Mayor and NDP following Council we will have chaos in Lethbridge!

    It appears the head office for the Local NDP is on the Blood Reserve and they will cater to anything the Chief’s on that Reserve want. So perhaps its time to start a referendum to remove the Mayor because Spearman’s “coming together” is code for “HIS WAY OR HIS WAY”!
    After the bullying we all saw yesterday at the council meeting by the mayor and one councillor , it appears it’s time to remove a DICTATOR!

    • h2ofield says:

      Blaine made an ass of himself and got called on it.
      Have we finally seen the end of your crusade, Bremner?
      I hope to hell so!

      • YaleB says:

        Hyggen wins either way. It appears that he is preparing for a mayoral run after years of simply warming a council seat, by forging a fan base in his desires to become a glorified tie-breaker with a six-figure salary whose politics are based on division and polarization (populism anyone?).

        That is, of course, assuming that he’s thought that far ahead. If he hasn’t, and he truly believes that what he’s doing is indeed something positive, then he’s as divisive and destructive and as vacant a political critter I’ve seen in ages. It appears he truly believes, “If he states it, they will vote.”

        I personally do not see the benefits of (potentially) electing a populist mayor who lacks a basic understanding of how a municipality operates within the larger federal system; who can without a note of irony proclaim the SCS to be a positive agency that is substantially harming Lethbridge (he can’t tell us how or why, nor does he offer alternative betterment strategies); and who does not appreciate that his protests are dividing people over an issue that we have very little power to influence (of course I write this in anticipation of the recently announced UCP review of provincial SCSs).

        We need to reflect on Coffman’s comments, which deserve additional consideration for the middle ground he is seeking to establish so we as a community can collectively move forward:

        “We seem to be a community that is losing empathy, empathy for those struggling with addictions, mental health and homelessness. We are losing empathy for those who are invested in the community, dedicating themselves to producing goods and services, and creating a living. We are also starting to vilify people — we are starting to vilify people in the business community because they are frustrated, they are angry, they are worried. And we are vilifying a non-for-profit organization who is trying to do something during this crisis, and that really concerns me, because that is not the way a good community moves forward.”

        That is all. Feel free to now slam my comments as socialist, communist, out of touch, the ravings of a lunatic, etc … . That seems to be current state of discourse in Lethbridge as it relates to this issue.

        Of final note, while I do not agree with Dennis Bremner, he at least has the balls to attach his name to his commentary. As I’ve stated time and again, anonymity is cowardice.

    • YaleB says:

      At least Spearman’s not attempting to buy Greenland!! Or looking to build a dome over the city ala Mayor Don Atchison in Saskatoon a few years back.

  3. JustObserving says:

    Yale, your comments of 9:46am do little to champion the moderation espoused by Coffman. You seem to delight in vilifying Hyggen for bringing this matter forward for discussion , unlike Coffman who recognizes democracy is based on discourse, not dictatorship. You then launch into what can only be termed as a personal attack. albeit in a more verbose manner than the ignorant comments of H2O, but equally as inconsistent with Coffman’s mantra. Perhaps a bit of meaningful self reflection might help you more than asking to be “roasted” by those of a contrary position.
    As to your comments re anonymity. It is a sad fact that what used to be intelligent disagreement has now devolved into stupid people feeling they have the right to “find out who you are” and then act on their emotion by vandalism, personal attacks and other disruptive behaviour. That is why many people choose not to use their real names.
    My preference is to assess a writer by the content of his/her writing, not by the identity of the writer.
    As for your 9:20 post, maybe Greenland would be a good location for the SCS, maybe sucking the air out of the City would end the anger…don’t discount these ideas too quickly
    – Signed: OxfordW [ I may just change my name too ]

    • YaleB says:

      This is in no way personal. I’m simply evaluating Hyggen’s record as a politician–exclusively. Interviews I’ve conducted with him for my work (and to which he graciously agreed to participate), discussions with him outside of that setting, and watching him perform as an elected leader of our community, provides the foundation for my assessment. I find Hyggen to be affable and an individual with a good sense of humour. The fact that he ran for office and remains committed to this community is admirable, considering the abuse one sets him/herself up for by becoming a public figure. That said, once in office how you perform must take precedence over all other “personal” considerations (i.e., the fact that I personally like him cannot influence my objective analysis of his efforts to date). My discussion regarding his populist approach, which I believe is an accurate assessment, and the fact that I see him gearing up for a mayoral run by using this issue to garner support, is all fair comment (he may not run and if so I am wrong). If you don’t agree, that’s fine. That is the foundation of democracy.