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Lethbridge MP speaks out over supervised consumption site concerns

August 8, 2019

MP for Lethbridge, Rachael Harder sits down with Bridge City News to share why she’s begun to raise her voice over tensions between the Lethbridge community and ARCHES, which runs a supervised consumption site (SCS). She feels that detox and recovery are better methods than harm reduction.

In an op-ed that has been shared more than 100 times on Facebook, Rachael Harder says “Detox and recovery must replace supervised consumption, mental health supports need to receive adequate funding, and not-for-profit organizations helping drug users find hope to move through the recovery process should be respected and supported.”

Tension in Lethbridge, particularly in the downtown was raised when ARCHES, which runs a supervised consumption site, among other programs opened its doors.  Just ten months after its opening, the site reported nearly 19,000 visits.  Today, the centre averages around 675 visits per day, thus making it the most used facility of its kind in North America and one of the busiest in the world.

But not everyone is happy about the site’s presence in the community.  Surrounding businesses say they have seen an increase in crime, loitering, drug use and violence, and it’s keeping workers and customers away.  Citizens have raised concerns over unsafe activity and needle debris.  Last week, a six year old boy was pricked by a discarded needle while he was playing in Sequoia Park.  The boy was taken to a doctor where he underwent a series of blood tests and a vaccine treatment to combat a possible Hepatitis C infection.

Facebook groups both for and against the SCS have increased in numbers recently.

Harder says that on both sides of the debate, these advocacy groups are lacking in compassion.  In support of detox and recovery in place of harm reduction she asks “Why wouldn't we hope for these people?  Why wouldn’t we desire for them to regain their lives back?”

Rallies for and against the SCS are planned to take place outside Lethbridge City Hall on Monday August 19 at 12 p.m.