October 25th, 2020

Supporters speak out in favour of LOPS


By Lethbridge Herald on October 15, 2020.

Supporters form a human wall around the side of their pop-up tent after a protestor attempted to dismantle it near the end of a media event held by the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society Thursday at London Road Park. Reporters had been invited to the event to hear perspectives from the group and its supporters. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Dale Woodard
Lethbridge Herald
A media gathering for the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society was once again met with opposition Thursday afternoon.
In their ongoing battle with Lethbridge’s opioid crisis, the LOPS held an event Thursday at London Road Park featuring a variety of speakers and members of the medical field to speak on behalf of their cause.
But as has been the case since the LOPS started at the end of last month in response to the province stopping funding for ARCHES, protesters arrived late in the gathering to make their thoughts of the LOPS known.
The Lethbridge Police Service attended the scene and the tent was taken down.
But before the protests, the afternoon event featured guest speakers touching on subjects such as homelessness and discrimination to the Indigenous population.
Also read out was a letter written in response to Associate Minister Jason Luan’s recent “Open Letter to Lethbridge,” which ran in the Sept. 29 issue of The Herald.
“I think it’s very important to show just how many people of all walks of life are supportive of this, not only in Lethbridge, but province-wide and nationally as well. It just happens that rate of mortality from opioid poisoning in Lethbridge is higher than anywhere else in the country right now, the need is the greatest,” said Dr. Bonnie Larson, a physician and family doctor from Calgary who works closely with the Mobile Integrated Health Program for Community Paramedics. “It comes down to my patients, that’s my priority. I’m not an activist, none of us are. None of the doctors here who are supportive of this are necessarily radical activists. We’re here because we care about our patients and we have an oath as physicians to make sure they don’t die and our patients are dying.
“This is really necessary because our systems are not taking care of people enough and they’re not preventing folks from dying of opioid poisoning. So we’re here because we care about our patients.”
Still, Sarah Villebrun was incensed to see the orange tent set up in her neighbourhood in broad daylight.
“I was notified the tent was up at approximately 2:55 p.m.. One of the neighbours in this area sent a video recording and said the tent was up and can somebody do something about it. I said I was 100 per cent on my way,” said Villebrun, who has been a mainstay at other LOPS protests over the past three weeks. “Today I’m extremely frustrated because it’s broad daylight. It’s a few minutes prior to my kids arriving at this location to get off the bus from school. Quite frankly, no children need to see a consumption site. There’s a reason the previous locations were placed in spots where children would not be affected. Our current supervised consumption site is placed in the location where children will not be directly affected by this.”
But Tim Slaney, a former ARCHES employee and organizer with the LOPS, said Thursday’s event was about demonstrating the support his group has received.
“I think the important thing is to demonstrate to the city and to the province that there is a lot of support on our mission among members of the health-care community and members of the Indigenous community, the people who are really on the front lines and seeing just how bad the problem in Lethbridge is.”
Despite the opposition, the LOPS has pushed forward.
“We were bracing for the worst and I think we found people are undeterred,” said Slaney. “They still want to come out there every night. Sometimes our biggest problem is too many people who are willing to come out, so we’re happy that way. We’ve found other ways to respond to some of the problems in Lethbridge. We’ve made a lot of good headway handing out Naloxone kits.”
While camps have formed on the city’s opioid crisis, Larson said she doesn’t see it from that perspective.
“I don’t see it as both sides,” she said. “I think the polarization of this issue is artificial and constructed for political gain. Today demonstrates, to some extent, that people really care about this issue and don’t want to see people dying from opioid overdoses anymore. I think people really want to help and find solutions.
“There are some stumbling blocks to that and some real bottlenecks with this very complex issue. It’s going to require a complex, collaborative solution and a number of different solutions; there isn’t just one thing that’s going to solve it. Levels of government must work together and I think what we’re seeing is there are many parts of the whole government system that are pointed in the right direction, but there are some and the ones that have the most power, that are not supportive of making sure people live or die.”
Follow @DWoodardHerald on Twitter

Share this story:
<5
Subscribe
Notify of
10 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Resolute

Photo Op. Media event. Illegal drug training site. Untrained, unqualified people doing misleading, illegal, unsafe, immoral acts to hurt City homeless, drug users, area residents and Lethbridge at large. No facts just hyperbole. The only beneficiaries are the workers and organizers and bused-in pseudo experts looking for 5 minutes of national publicity as they contribute to destroying drug users, city residents, our children and our wellbeing. While hoping for a return of the big paychecks that Arches’ fraudulent SDCS delivered to its 174 staff. Shut it down. Save Lethbridge and our sanity.

ewingbt

So if that is how they are going to operate now, how can we trust them in the future? They begin by breaking the law!
What are Tim Slaney’s medical credentials to chair this and operate this tent? What are his addiction counselling credentials? Did he go to university, get his Bachelor of Science or Arts and continue to receive a degree . . . or did he just volunteer to collect needles and hand our syringes.
The SCS never listened to the citizens of this city when they said they didn’t want the site in their city or the businesses, the livelihoods they destroyed as pleas by those people were ignored by the SCS and Council. One of them stated when asked about one business owner losing much of his business, that it wasn’t that bad because he only lost 60% of his walk-in business, he still has his online business.
Just in the greater Vancouver DTES, with a population of about 20,000, where the first safe injection site opened in 2003, over $360 million per year is put into social services and housing services to combat the issues that have continued to grow every year! Billions blown on enabling addicts, like we are doing, and the number of addicts, the number of fatal overdoses, homeless and crime all increased since 2003 . . . it does not work!
Effective treatment programs do! Why to do have to look at Europe when the demographics and social issues are different? The best and most effective program started in Johnson City, TN, by Becky Haas and spawned several other successful programs and there were no SCS’s . . . none! Effective treatment and policing!
This band of criminals need to be arrested and made an example of! Our community has suffered enough! Tremors of anger ripped through the downtown business community when they heard of this tent weeks ago!
Go back to your own city Dr. Larson . . . even the SCS review panel knew the issues here ARE different then in Calgary! We are tired of people raping and pillaging our neighbourhoods! Go back to your own city!!!
We will not allow this in our city!
They once again are spitting on the citizens of this city!

Last edited 8 days ago by ewingbt
ChuckB

If they really want to be legitimate, then find ways to get people off drugs instead of encouraging drug use. Without anywhere to do drugs, then the people who moved to our city because of the SCS might have gone back home. Now, they can hang around, looking for some way to steal for their next fix.

buckwheat

Well, they have had their five minutes, The Herald should do a bio on the organizers, lets see who they are and their “qualifications” for running an illegal operation.

HaroldP

This “illegal tent” has been up for almost a month give it take. Yes, Bylaw offence tickets have been issued. Total disregard by the tent operators for law and order, they refuse to be obedient. Where is our Mayor? Where is MLA Phillips as this display of anarchy is happening under his nose in his City and under her nose in her Lethbridge West Electrol District? This should have been nipped in the bud at the onset, however immediate action needs to be taken, arrests made and the tent/notion be dismantled. Your move Mayor Spearman, we are waiting!

Canadian Patriot

By ignoring the majority of voters, Spearman and the rest of the fools at silly hall are projecting their virtue to satisfying their inner narcissism. They must signal to the social justice crowd you know. The civic election can’t come soon enough…

Fescue

Signaling virtue when you are vituous seems consistent. What are you signalling, Patriot?



10
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x