January 24th, 2021

SCS changes could bring more problems: mayor

By Lethbridge Herald on January 22, 2020.

Mayor Chris Spearman says any potential closure of the Lethbridge supervised consumption site, the busiest in the province, could bring even further problems to the city. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
Local community leaders are responding to Premier Jason Kenney’s speculation on Tuesday that his government may consider closing some supervised consumption sites and relocating others in the province.
Mayor Chris Spearman said any potential closure of the SCS in Lethbridge, the busiest in the province, could bring even further problems to the city, especially if the government doesn’t add any new dollars for services like supportive housing, intox, detox and treatment.
“It has been a divisive issue in our city, for sure,” Spearman acknowledged. “We want to have solutions. We don’t think the problem of drug addiction and drug-related crime is going to go away by closing the SCS. The issue is we have people who are addicted, and we have to address the root causes. So for more than five years, we’ve have been advocating for adequate intox, adequate detox, supportive housing, and treatment and recovery facilities. Without those other supports, we just won’t ever solve this issue.”
Relocation of the existing site might also prove problematic, said Spearman.
“When it comes to a possible move, we don’t want to speculate on where they might put it,” he said. “But ideally, it’s in an area where people can access it if it is to actually fulfil its function of harm reduction. Most of the clientele are walking there, and if it is on the edge of the city or outside of the city, they won’t use it.”
Spearman acknowledged it was a provincial decision to make either way, but he hoped the province would take into account the other services the SCS provides to the city’s most vulnerable population.
“The supervised consumption site provides 16 other services in addition to supervised (drug) consumption,” he explained,” and so getting people referred into medical care, and on to other services, is important as well. I think that story doesn’t get told often enough; that the supervised consumption site has other benefits.”
Lethbridge East MLA Nathan Neudorf said Premier Kenney has been consistent in his views on harm reduction and supervised consumption services.
“I think the premier has been clear all along that our direction is going to be much more focused on treatment and recovery, and not strictly on harm reduction,” explained Neudorf. “I think (Tuesday’s) announcement and his comments emphasized that. I don’t know any specifics on any location, including Lethbridge, or what or if they have decided anything at this point yet. But obviously the direction is going to be on getting people well instead of on just management of an addiction.”
Neudorf pointed out the premier is not strictly opposed to harm reduction and supervised consumption services, and acknowledged they may even be needed and appropriate under certain circumstances. Neudorf said this reflects his own views on the subject.
“I do understand (harm reduction) is part of the four pillars to treating addiction,” stated Neudorf, while emphasizing his own preference is to see addicts receive treatment for their addictions rather than exclusively relying on SCS services.
Neudorf also acknowledged some Lethbridge residents might be growing impatient while waiting for the provincial government to wrap up its SCS reviews and line things up properly for the rollout of new mental health and addictions funding expected in the March budget.
“I was able to speak with the chief of staff for associate minister for Mental Health and Addictions (on Wednesday), and he spoke to the premier yesterday,” said Neudorf. “They are well aware that Lethbridge is probably the number-one hot zone for this (drug crisis) in the province, and whatever directions and changes they make will have to help address the situation in Lethbridge. It does take time. There are lots of pieces at play, but the province is very well aware of Lethbridge and its needs. And wants to help address those needs in a meaningful way in as quick a time frame as possible.”
ARCHES executive director Stacey Bourque, whose organization runs the SCS in Lethbridge, said it was encouraging to hear the premier acknowledge on Tuesday, amidst his largely critical remarks on supervised consumption sites, that harm reduction has a role to play in any provincial addiction strategy.
“Mr. Kenney was clear that it was never their intention to close all the supervised consumption sites in the province,” she said, “and I believe he also stated that he knows that harm reduction is an important piece of the larger continuum.”
On the subject of potential relocation, Bourque said the current location of the SCS was well-considered before it was chosen, but she would be open to revisiting that with the provincial government if necessary.
“If the government believes there is a better location for the SCS in Lethbridge, of course we would work with them to make that a reality,” she said. “It has to be close to where the people who need the service are. There is a variety of factors which led us to determine the current location, which would be access to public transportation, access to the areas of the city that were identified as being the highest overdose rates at the time, which of course was the downtown, and access to populations of people who were walking to the SCS from other social service agencies.”
Bourque stressed again the SCS did not cause the social disorders Lethbridge is facing during the worst drug crisis in the province’s and city’s history, but acknowledged by providing an essential harm reduction and health service where none used to exist has exposed those problems for the public to see in a more immediate way than it did before. Bourque also agreed the lack of other support services for the city’s marginalized population has aggravated the situation.
“In the absence of services, without supportive housing, intox, detox and treatment, problems only move or centralize near existing services,” Bourque stated. “And that is what we have seen in Lethbridge.”
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Seth Anthony

I won’t even bother refuting the self serving propaganda that the mayor and Bourque spew.

Anyway, the UCP is funding 4,000 addiction treatment beds and spaces, outpatient services and medically assisted detox spaces across the province. And no, I’m not a supporter of the ucp or any other political party for that matter.

The following is a well written letter from an Ontario resident that addresses the issue in an impressively objective manner:

Hello everyone,

As you likely know, many communities, such as mine in Ontario, are experiencing the same issues that are ravaging Lethbridge. On a regular basis we and others that care very much for our community and it’s current ‘crisis’ have been attacked on social media for the usual reasons. We get called things like ‘Homeless haters’, ‘Addict haters’ etc etc. This has gone on for long enough. I feel it is time to address this issue and clear up some of the misconceptions that these people like to spread about us and our goals. Maybe the following applies to Lethbridge too.

This is my response to their hate and accusations….

“The hypocrisy and complete lack of understanding of this situation we all face is overwhelming.

While those of you that choose to insult us are standing on your perceived moral high ground tossing your hatred at us while ignoring the real problems that the homeless, addicts, and residents are facing in this crisis, we are actually doing something to help and protect them. Maybe you just can’t see that or don’t want to see it? What are you doing to help everyone?

You appear to be so wrapped up in your own virtue-signalling, self serving anger at anyone that is perceived to be anti-homeless/addict that you can’t see that we are some of the very few people that are trying to help them by not sweeping them under the carpet of ‘homelessness’ as so many, including elected politicians continue to do.

Many others, including myself are not in any way against the homeless or drug addicts. We are against criminal activity and the regions ridiculous and hypocritical ‘harm transfer’ policies that only make the problem worse while showing absolutely no compassion or consideration whatsoever for the safety of anybody except those that they are trying to help. Why does the safety of everyone else not matter to you? Why is it so bad to want to help everyone? Compassion applies to everyone, not just your buddies. You claim compassion yet don’t give a damn about the safety of residents.

You appear to be doing what so many people continue to do in this crisis which is mistaking addiction for homelessness. ‘Regular’ homelessness and homelessness due to addiction are two totally separate things requiring drastically different tactics. People need to learn the difference and know that they are not the same or everyone will suffer.

Housing the homeless is a wonderful thing but doing the same for active addicts is not, unless the surrounding communities safety can be ensured which is impossible without proper intervention and treatment. Neither of these is available in an effective manner. I really wish this on-demand treatment was available…it’s one of the main things we, and everyone else, should be fighting for instead of giving all the funding to those wishing to franchise this suffering.

Enabling the addict lifestyle by giving them everything they need, with zero accountability or responsibility does not help anybody and just places them and the community in danger. They must have the addiction taken care of or their suffering and that of the local residents is guaranteed to continue.

There is a massive addiction crisis yet many people continue see is homelessness. Why is this? Do people not see the overwhelming correlation between addiction and homelessness?

You cannot treat addicts as you would the homeless. Please understand that. We all want help for homeless and addicts but you simply cannot put them in the same basket and expect positive results.

I find it incredibly insulting and demeaning to the homeless that every part of the region’s plan to help the drug crisis involves more and more enabling of drug addicts by placing them squarely in the ‘homeless’ box. This is horrible for the homeless, the addicts, and citizens alike. You want to know why there are so many criminal addicts in cities such as Lethbridge? THIS constant enabling is why.

Yes there is a drug crisis but it is being massively exacerbated by this ‘harm reduction’ plan that is nothing but harm transfer…..transfer of harm to the homeless, businesses and innocent residents of this city while slowly killing the addicts with a plan that has no possible chance of success and has no end game.

Many people you oppose and slander online are not fighting against the addicts or the homeless, they are fighting to do what works for EVERYONE and to stop the victimization of our community and the needless slow deaths of addicts while the homeless are forced back onto the streets out of fear for their safety. How is that not a worthy goal?

I have never understood why people want to attack us when we are literally fighting as hard as we can for better and pro-active plans that help the addicts, the homeless, AND the residents and not create or duplicate failing reactive, band-aid initiatives.

We are not against the homeless or addicts, we are against the practice of enabling drug addicts by treating them with the same tactics that are applied to ‘regular’ homeless people. While many of you are spouting hatred toward us, We are trying to actually HELP the homeless by not having them forced into shelters that are overrun with addicts, many of which are the ones responsible for the horrendous increase in crime we are experiencing all over Lethbridge and other innocent communities.

If you wanted to shelter a cold group of cats would you throw them into a nice warm cage full of coyotes??? Of course you wouldn’t. Yet that is what is happening to the homeless in shelters all over Canada.

Many homeless are terrified to go to shelters for this exact reason, they know that they are mostly occupied by drug addicts, many of which (not all) will assault and rob them. You think that’s right? You think the homeless want that? We are vocally trying to fix this….what are you doing other than spreading hate and crying “Stigma!” and “Compassion!”?

If you truly cared for the homeless as you keep stating then why are you so willing to throw them to the wolves?

Yes this is a harsh truth but it is a fact and no amount of naivety and ‘compassion’ will change that.

Yes, compassion is nice, but it is not an excuse for willfully ignoring the reality we face and covering our eyes and ears and saying “All will be well if we could only just give addicts everything they need so I don’t have to face what is truly occurring here.”

People are living in fear every day, homes are being robbed every day, residents are being spat on and threatened in plaza’s every day. Nobody’s home is safe anymore. Businesses are leaving. THIS is what many people including myself are fighting….criminals, NOT the homeless or addicts.

The uncomfortable truth is that we need to do everything we can to differentiate between the ‘regular’ homeless, addicts that want help, and the addicts that do not. Then, for the safety of everyone, we need to make our communities as unwelcoming as possible to those addicts that do not want help and choose to live off crime and the victimization of residents. Only then can we effectively help the homeless and the addicts that want help without placing them in the danger you all seem so eager to place them in every day. Is that not a worthy goal that everyone can agree with?

I believe that every one of you that is fuming at what you are reading right now has all the best intentions, as do I…..so I plead to you…..If you care so much for the homeless, as you state, then please, please understand what is actually going on and stop destroying the only thing that some of them have going for them….the comfort and warmth of a SAFE shelter, not one overrun with addicts, many of which will prey on them.

If you care for the addicts then please help us get them the real help they need to get clean and save them from the horrors of the downward spiral of addiction. They have parents, brothers, sisters, children and friends that need them. Enabling them to get high while pretending that treatment is available is not how to do it. Being against that does not make us haters, it makes us want to help in a way that really works…..for everyone!

Please stop dismissing the real concerns of residents that have every reason to be sick and tired of the misery and crime they are enduring every single day. It is not hate, it is legitimate concern for their safety and that of their families, homes, and businesses. Why do you care so much for one group of people while not giving a damn about everyone else??? Doesn’t sound like compassion to me.

Compassion works both ways. Compassion applies to ALL people. Or does it only apply to addicts???

We will always have this conflict between us until you consider everyone, not just specialty groups. It’s common sense.

The addicts need treatment, not enabling. Residents and homeless need safety. THAT is what we are working toward. We want to help everyone…can you say that? I can’t wait for the day when we can all come together and agree on that goal.”

Dennis Bremner

Bourgues total obsession is running a business for her clients. She has an amazing ability of “spin” much like her political counter part Phillips. Between the two of them you would actually think the reason they defend SCS so much is because it works? SCS have been around longer than Bourgue and Phillips have been on the planet. Every SCS defends its self worth of “keepin them alive” and uses the same tactic that if you are against SCS you are a KILLER. Everyone of these facilities that used the same tactic, still exist today in regions of Europe and life in those Cities never got better. Its amusing how both these ladies can understand the math of what food costs and what it takes to run your life, but somehow can’t fathom that addicts use YOUR money, not theirs to run their life. So while Bourgue vacuums in all the addicts from the surrounding area, grows in size, and becomes the LARGEST EMPLOYER in Downtown Lethbridge (something I stated would happen in 2018) , the city suffers the ramifications of the combined stupidity of of our “Local Leaders”. Does Phillips, Bourgue, Manning and Spearman/Council look fondly at Vancouver DTES and say “Golly gee, with work, we can become just like the DTES”? Is that your aspiration for Lethbridge or are you so naive that you believe you will beat this problem where DTES has not for the last 28 years? Are you that uninformed that you just think “Golly we can do this”?
Spearmans interpretation of being relieved that Kenney sees some value to harm reduction is meant to try to justify his contribution to this FIASCO! It doesn’t Mr Mayor! Harm Reduction for an Addict does not mean increasing harm for everyone else, which is obviously your philosophy. Harm Reduction is a step in a 4 step process. If you do not have the other 3 steps, have no plan for the other 3 steps, DON’T implement the first step because all you do is increase harm, for the rest of your population! I honestly do not think you will get it, nor Phillips, nor Bourgue or Manning you are living in your own little world. You Spearman as a politician have to know that you never get what you think you should get if you rely on the province/Feds to provide but hell lets save those druggies now, make life miserable for the Residents of Lethbridge and maybe if we get lucky in a few years we get the rest of the program?? What a PLAN you have!!
I think you must actually believe there is a free ticket to Heaven in this because for the life of me, I cannot figure out how putting the citizens of Lethbridge in Harms way by inviting people here from miles around to your combined stupidity solves any problems.
If you had spent 1/50th of your time on Crucifying the Judicial System for Catch and Release this city would be far better off then it is today.

So now that the Deadly Duo’s of SCS runners and Politicians have successfully centralized all the addicts from the surrounding areas (intentional or not) they now threaten the local population with the “Release of the hounds”. The same tactic European Cities SCS owners used to continue to kill their cities, and residents had to bar their windows, doors and people no longer could go out at night. So now, do we become one of those “DRUG CITIES” or do we decide to FIX our city! I have faith in the new X/millennial Generations, they have the ability to create a CRISIS out of anything, including a malfunctioning X box, and, screw it up with amazing logic and if questioned, well they get downright OFFENDED!
You may say “so what was the OK Boomer solution if we were so SMART”? Its easy, if you decide to step in front of a train and jump out of the way at the last second, everyday, thats your choice. Boomers never set up a “Safe from Trains Site”. You have a god given right to choose. If you choose to be stupid thats your choice. With the exception of Vancouver suprisingly, Cities across Canada did nothing, people died. If you decide everyday of your life that a drug is more important then living without drugs, that is your god given right to choose to do so. If you say, people are addicted and cannot make a “proper decision any longer” well that sounds like a FORCED REHAB Program if you are saying a person can no longer make proper judgement. I find it interesting you can declare your parents incompetent when there time comes, but WOAH THEIR COWBOY…don’t do it to a 5 hit a day addict…its gotta be against his/her rights! I can tell you one thing that does not work is enabling them to continue to use without the fear of death just so you can get a free ticket to heaven! You can also blame Big Pharma all you want, but that is a 99% excuse to not stop using and of course SCSs play the sympathy roll well. “Its not your fault yur a farkin drug addict, its “Big Pharma”, here have another syringe. Big Pharma is not forcing you to inject yourself everyday. You choose, you suffer the consequences, period! So why is it a crisis today?
There was no crisis then, other than the crisis expressed by the Non Profits wanting to set up in your city so they could make a Profit!
You don’t get the most used SCS in the world and not the big city crime that follows and if you haven’t figured that out yet….better get with it Lethbridge!

So now that the Amazing 4 have got the 1500 addicts here in Lethbridge here is the final decree “Mayor Chris Spearman says any potential closure of the Lethbridge supervised consumption site, the busiest in the province, could bring even further problems to the city.”

Does one not remember the good ole days of our “I am leaving this hell hole Police Chief saying” “you can’t lock up 300 addicts”? ahhh the good ole days and my warning then, is oh so appropriate now! I said you better lock up the 300 because if you don’t you will have a 1000 by next year!

This is always my final statement in everything I write about this FIASCO! Here it is again, “Lethbridge, if you think the worst is over, “you ain’t seen nothing yet”!! Watch this year, starting this summer Lethbridge, this will be the worst on record for severe crime, been there, done that, got the bullet proof vest!

Seth Anthony

They won’t Ragner, as that would take honor, honesty, and integrity.

Now Fitzpatrick is telling Neudorf to “do his job”. Yet…

Of all the comments I’ve seen on the matter from Fitzpatrick and Philips over the last 3 years, not once did I see either mention addict crime. I’ve found it to be a standard MO of scs supporters to ignore the victimization of innocent people that their position enhances.

Fitzpatrick and Philips were main players in this ill conceived virtue signaling experiment, and now Fitzpatrick has the tenacity and arrogance to tell Neudorf to “do his job” in alleviating a problem which she helped create.