Calgary committee hears concerns about supervised consumption site – Calgary

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Social agencies and members of the public presented concerns about Calgary’s supervised consumption site to the community services committee on Wednesday.

Police and fire officials spoke about the increased social disorder and spike in crime in the area. Alberta Health Services officials talked about steps it is taking, such as increasing security patrols in the area.

Effect on residents

Residents living near the consumption site at the Sheldon M. Chumir Centre spoke of how they feel unsafe in the area.

“People like my daughter and granddaughters have to walk in fear as they go to work or school,” said Sherry Crawford in her presentation to the committee. “You imply that all lives matter yet you are deliberately choosing to prioritize addicts’ lives over those of my daughters and granddaughters.”

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READ MORE:
Calgary city council votes to study safety initiatives for downtown safe consumption site

Jessica McEachern, a peer support worker at the site, said the increased security in the area has a negative impact.

“It’s really disheartening as people that I see that have come and been using the site from the beginning to now… they feel they can’t trust us anymore because of the increased police presence around,” she said.

Resources and strategies

Ward 8 Coun. Evan Woolley said strategies, such as daily needle clean-ups and police patrols, are already being used to help address social disorder. He added that working to provide supports to the site will help the surrounding neighbourhood.

“Ensuring that we have the wraparound supports and that the wraparound supports are working, we will see better outcomes in terms of social disorder and crime in the community that we’re experiencing and having challenges with,” he said.


READ MORE:
Spike in crime around Calgary supervised consumption site leads to questions about resources

Calgary deputy police chief Ryan Ayliffe said officers have made a point of directing more resources at that area.

“That includes changing shifts, re-deploying officers from bikes, re-deploying beat officers,” Ayliffe said. “We have engaged in other investigative resources in the area to supplement some of our investigative tactics.”

Ayliffe said that police alone won’t be able to address issues in the area.

“There’s nothing an officer possesses in their tool belt that can allow them to work on these problems in isolation,” Ayliffe said. “We have to work with all the partners in the city and in the province and federally to resolve the root issues of these problems.”

Impact on future projects

Concerns surrounding the site have led an east Calgary community association to withdraw support for another proposed supervised consumption site.

HIV Community Link hopes to have a mobile supervised consumption site operating in neighbourhoods like Forest Lawn. The project has not yet been approved by Health Canada and specific locations have not been determined.


READ MORE:
Calgary supervised consumption site given 1-year extension by Health Canada

Troubled by the CPS report outlining significant increases in drug-related calls and violent crime in the area surrounding the Chumir site, the Forest Lawn Community Association said it would not support having a safe injection site in their neighbourhood.

“Given that the only information we have comes back with such a negative response, we just can’t take that risk,” association president William Carnegie said.

“Right now, I just don’t see anything going forward where we can support it.”

However, HIV Community Link believes its mobile site won’t experience the same sort of social disorder seen at the Chumir site.

“We’ll be a low-volume service that will be in a neighbourhood a few hours at a time rather than a large service that’s operating 24 hours a day,” executive director Leslie Hill said.

She added that the organization will have outreach teams to help ease any concerns community members have. Security teams could also be added as a precaution.

WATCH: People living near the Sheldon M. Chumir Centre supervised consumption site delivered impassioned pleas for change to a City of Calgary committee on Wednesday, as officials grapple with public safety issues surrounding the site. Blake Lough reports.







City administration is being asked to consider feedback in developing recommendations in response to the 12 items up for study from Woolley.

On Feb. 25, city council will get an update on actions taken to address social disorder and public safety.

The issue will head back to committee in the second quarter of the year.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Quebec facing strong opposition to new bill restricting cannabis consumption – Montreal

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The Quebec government faced strong opposition as public consultations began Tuesday on its bill seeking to increase the legal age of cannabis consumption and ban it from all public areas.

Junior Health Minister Lionel Carmant has said he tabled Bill 2 in order to protect young people and send a message that smoking marijuana is not a trivial matter. The proposed legislation restricts marijuana usage to people aged 21 and over and limits its smoking to private property.

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READ MORE: Quebec moves to raise legal age to consume cannabis to 21

The province’s public health agencies are largely against the new restrictions. They say raising the legal age to 21 from 18 won’t prevent young people from obtaining marijuana. And they say banning it from public areas marginalizes tenants whose landlords have banned smoking, creating a system were only certain groups can consume a legal product without breaking the law.

The Canadian Press has learned that two public health organizations are planning to suggest a compromise on the age limit during hearings on Bill 2 before a legislative committee in Quebec City. Two well-placed sources said the committee will be told the government should give gradual access to cannabis to youth aged 18 to 20.

WATCH: Montrealers line up on the first day of legal marijuana sales






People between 18 and 20 years should only be allowed to purchase marijuana with a low percentage of THC — the drug’s main psychoactive component, the committee will be told. “This proposal shows the scientific community, in public health, is trying to give an honourable exit door to the government on its policy,” said one source, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

The current law is already one of the strictest legal regimes for marijuana in the country. Personal cultivation of cannabis plants is banned and the only way to legally purchase the product is through a government agency.

The previous Liberal government had allowed public consumption of marijuana in places where tobacco was permitted, with certain restrictions, but the new Coalition Avenir Québec government is not alone in seeking tighter rules. Even before Bill 2, many Quebec municipalities adopted their own bylaws banning all public consumption of cannabis.

READ MORE: Quebec’s cannabis agency cuts back expansion plans amid shortages

Marianne Dessureault, spokeswoman for Quebec’s association of public health, will appear before the committee Wednesday. She said she understands the desire to protect young, developing brains from the risks of marijuana, but she feels the bill lacks a scientific basis.

“I am worried that we are going ahead and maybe transforming a law that sought to protect public health, towards a law that has more of a political flavour,” she said in an interview. “It’s concerning. It’s clear that (the bill) has a populist appeal and that it doesn’t have its place in public health policy.”

WATCH BELOW: Cannabis activist hopes to change Quebec marijuana laws






Bastien Quirion, professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa, is also scheduled appear before the committee Wednesday. He questioned why the government would prohibit people under 21 years old from consuming cannabis but allow them to drink alcohol or smoke tobacco.

“One hundred years of cannabis prohibition show that it’s not through banning it that we are going to eradicate the practice or prevent risky behaviour,” he said in an interview.

“It will just put certain groups in a precarious position.”

Maude Faniel-Methot, a spokeswoman for Carmant, declined to comment on the idea of giving younger people gradual access to THC. She said the minister is open to listening to all suggestions to amend the bill.

READ MORE: Long lineup at Montreal pot shop as legalization begins

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Calgary city council votes to study safety initiatives for downtown safe consumption site – Calgary

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Calgary city council has voted unanimously to take a look at a dozen actions that could lead to increased public safety around the safe consumption site at the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre.

Councillor Evan Woolley said it’s natural to get angry emails from upset residents on various issues, however, what he’s getting from Beltline residents is a sense of fear and he said that is from people who were initially supportive of the safe consumption site.

Woolley and Councillor Diane Colley Urquhart have come up with 12 recommendations that include things such as daily needle cleanups and increased security. They are also asking Alberta Health Services to add additional on-site psychologists and psychiatrists that specialize in addictions and mental health.

“As someone who really supported the facility I support the incredible work that’s being undertaken by some of our best minds to address this problem,” Woolley said. “But it won’t be successful if we cannot keep the people that live in and around this community safe.”


READ MORE:
Calgary supervised consumption site given 1-year extension by Health Canada

WATCH BELOW: Tour of supervised consumption site






The councillors’ initiatives follow a recent police report about a spike in crime in the vicinity of the centre.

Councillor Peter Demong voted in favour of Woolley and Colley Urquhart’s initiatives but expressed concern about the city having to provide funding for the issues that were created by the province when the consumption site was opened.

“We’re basically having to clean up something a different level of government instituted,” Demong said.

A report will come to a city hall committee on Feb. 13 with an update and possible costs associated with the 12 initiatives.


READ MORE:
Spike in crime around Calgary supervised consumption site leads to questions about resources

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London council approves rezoning of 446 York St. to allow for supervised consumption facility – London

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London city council has approved the rezoning of 446 York St. to allow for a supervised consumption facility.

The nod came during council’s meeting at city hall on Tuesday, nearly nine months after a deal was struck with the landlord of the York Street location.


READ MORE:
Health unit strikes deal for supervised consumption at 241 Simcoe St. and 446 York St. in London

The week prior, London’s planning and environment committee hosted a public participation meeting that was marked by a lengthy debate among members of the public.

However, council’s Tuesday evening discussion on the matter was quite the opposite, in that it ran less than five minutes.

The only vocal opposition came from Ward 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis.

“I’m basing this decision on zoning, not on the value of an overdose [prevention] site,” said Lewis.

“We do need one, I’m just not convinced this is the location.”


READ MORE:
Drewlo Holdings voices opposition ahead of public meeting on supervised consumption site

A vote of 12-2 fell in favour of the rezoning, with Lewis and Ward 14 Coun. Steve Hillier voting no and Ward 11 Coun. Stephen Turner abstaining due to his employment with the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

It was during another reading of the rezoning motion that Lewis changed his mind to the tune of the majority of his political peers.

“Democracy has had its day, and I certainly support the fact that you all want to see this move forward,” said Lewis.


READ MORE:
London mayoral hopeful says he supports supervised consumption facilities

The nod from council was given praise by Mayor Ed Holder, who campaigned on a pro-supervised consumption facility platform during his election.

“It’s an important first step,” said Holder.

“We’ve got to get this right, and the other part of that is doing appropriate wraparound services. It was part of the discussion I had with the premier when I met with him last week… we’re looking for that additional support.”

Ward 5 Coun. Maureen Cassidy voiced similar praise for the approval, adding that London is “a medium-sized city with a big-city drug problem.”

As for residents living near the York Street location, the mayor said they will remain a top priority for council moving forward.

“One of the things we’ve been assured by the medical officer of health is the importance of putting security around the perimeter of the building and in that area,” Holder said. “I think that speaks to the safety concerns that certainly the Middlesex-London Health Unit believes is important, and we believe is important, too, in terms of safety of residents and the safety of all Londoners.”


READ MORE:
Health Canada approves two permanent consumption sites in London

While federal approval has been granted for the city’s applications for consumption and treatment service sites at 446 York St. and 241 Simcoe St., council has not yet been presented with a rezoning application for the latter location.

WATCH: Ontario to keep safe injection sites as part of new model





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Ontario to keep funding supervised drug consumption sites, health minister says

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Ontario will keep funding supervised drug consumption sites, but their focus will change to help users receive treatment and get rehabilitated, Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday morning.

Existing sites will also have to reapply to continue operating, Elliott said.

« While critical, simply preventing overdoses is not enough. We need longer-term solutions to this problem, » she said about the reason behind rebranding the sites to focus on consumption and treatment services. 

« Lives are being lost every day, and opioid addiction, if left unchecked, creates a new burden on our health-care system.

« We don’t truly save a person’s life until they are free of addiction. »

Toronto and Ottawa have supervised consumption sites. 

London has a temporary overdose prevention site while it awaits approval of a permanent site. 

The province has capped the number of sites at 21.

There will not be any new funding for the rebranded sites, Elliott said, and most existing sites already comply with the new model. Those sites cost the province $31 million. 

The new sites will include harm-reduction services such as supervised consumption services and will connect people with treatment and health services, Elliott said. 

« Government cannot turn a blind eye to the crisis is happening in front of us. Absent a safe and controlled environment, [people] will continue to use local business, parks, homes and libraries to inject at serious risk to themselves and others. »

Currently, 19 sites are operating and can apply to the province to continue. Three sites — in St. Catharines, Thunder Bay and in Parkdale in Toronto — were paused while Elliott reviewed supervised consumption. Those will be allowed to open, she said. 

« Pop-up sites and tents will not be allowed and this will be strictly enforced. »

The sites will be subject to random audits. They’ll also have to report back to the province about who is using them. 

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Nova Scotians lead the country in cannabis consumption, says StatsCan

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While B.C. may be known for its production of bud, Nova Scotians lead the country in cannabis consumption among people 15 and older, according to Statistics Canada data released Thursday.

Smoking recreational cannabis will be legal in Canada for those 19 and older starting Wednesday though edible cannabis products will remain illegal for the time being.

According to the third-quarter findings for Statistics Canada’s national cannabis survey, 23 per cent of Nova Scotia residents reported using cannabis, which was followed by B.C. at 20 per cent.

For the country as a whole, it worked out to 15 per cent of residents — or 4.6 million people.

The province with the smallest proportion of residents who used cannabis was Quebec at 10.1 per cent.

The other provinces came in at:

  • Alberta — 17 per cent.
  • Saskatchewan — 15.7 per cent.
  • Manitoba — 18.9 per cent.
  • Ontario — 15.1 per cent.
  • New Brunswick — 13.8 per cent.
  • P.E.I. — 15 per cent.
  • Newfoundland — 16.1 per cent.

Statistics Canada also found that cannabis use was higher among males (18 per cent) than females (12 per cent) for the country. Use also decreased with age.

Using data from the first nine months of the year, Statistics Canada reported that 14 per cent of cannabis users with a driver’s licence reported driving within two hours of using.

Previous data from Statistics Canada found that the province producing the most cannabis in 2017 was B.C., accounting for 36.6 per cent of total production, followed by Quebec at 31 per cent and Ontario at 22.7 per cent.

Read more articles from CBC Nova Scotia

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Canadian police services still putting ‘finishing touches’ on pot consumption policy for officers

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Many Canadian police services are still « putting the finishing touches » on the rules surrounding officers’ consumption of cannabis, less than three weeks before marijuana is legalized for recreational use.

So far, Calgary is the only jurisdiction with a complete abstinence policy.

Officers in the Calgary Police Service will be banned from consuming marijuana even on their days off or vacations — a policy that the police union says it plans to fight.

Other police departments with policies in place require officers to be « fit for duty, » more in line with the rules surrounding the consumption of alcohol and prescription drugs.

Both the RCMP and the military will allow members to light up, though the Canadian Forces says personnel must leave at least eight hours between using cannabis and being on duty.

The Vancouver Police Department approved its policy this week, with officers required to self-evaluate whether they are fit for duty.

« We don’t have a specific time limit on alcohol or prescription drug use, and we will not be implementing one for cannabis, » said Const. Jason Doucette, a department spokesperson.

« Our officers will be provided with information surrounding cannabis use and potency, etc., and it will be their responsibility to ensure they show up fit for duty. »

‘We don’t tell employees they cannot drink alcohol’

Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax haven’t yet released their rules, but Regina has indicated it has no plans to ban officers from using the soon-to-be-legal drug.

The « finishing touches » are being put on the policy, but the Regina police chief says the approach there will be similar to the rules surrounding alcohol use.

« It involves finding the right balance between avoiding regulating what our employees do in their own spare time and the expectation that they are fit for duty when they come to work.

« We don’t tell our employees they cannot drink alcohol in their own time, away from work, but we do expect our officers to show up for work fit for duty, » said Chief Evan Bray.

Breakdown city by city

The Toronto Police Service said it is « considering specific direction to members regarding the recreational use of cannabis. » A spokesperson said « at this stage, all options are being considered. »

The only stipulation for Ottawa police is they must be « free from the effects of alcohol or any drug including cannabis » when they report for duty.

Here’s a list of Canadian police services that responded to CBC’s request for details on cannabis policies:

  • Vancouver: Officers allowed to consume.
  • Calgary: Officers not allowed to consume.
  • Edmonton: No policy yet.
  • Regina: No policy yet, but officers will be allowed to consume.
  • Winnipeg: No policy yet.
  • Toronto: No policy yet.
  • Ottawa: Officers allowed to consume.
  • Montreal: Officers allowed to consume.
  • Halifax: No policy yet.
  • St. John’s: No policy yet.
  • RCMP: No policy yet. Officers will be allowed to consume. 
  • Military: Members allowed to consume, but not within eight hours of a shift.

CBC News also reached out to services in Quebec City, Fredericton and Charlottetown but did not receive responses. 

All Canadian police officers will receive online training through the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN) on the new federal legislation.

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