It was an emotional day on Calgary's council, a committee that was directly heard by people affected by the only city observation facility.
The Commission has heard concerns from people who are afraid to visit or visit the area due to increased use of drugs and social disorders and the need to help those struggling with addiction.
Coun. Sean Chu said that drug use and addiction is a "choice," not an illness, and asked the audience to raise their hands if they want a "shooting range" in their neighborhood – to express the Council's opinion. Evan Woolie bristled.
"I found these comments offensive and ignorant of all the challenging and complex work we do," Wally said.
Woolley represents the area where Sheldon Chumir is the place of consumption. He also has a personal connection with the fight against the opioid crisis – in April he lost his brother from an overdose.
If harm reduction is going to be successful, people need to feel safer.– Advice. Evan Woolley
Representatives of the city, the police, the Alberta health services and other community partners participated in a panel discussion on public safety issues during the meeting, which was also heard by representatives of the public.
Calgary Sheri Crawford told the Council she was afraid of the safety of her daughter and her granddaughter in the area.
"Why does a drug addict's wish to accept illicit drugs, often related to criminal behavior, takes precedence over my daughter's wish for a safe neighborhood in which to live and work and raise her children?" Crawford asked the council.
"If harm reduction is going to be successful, people need to feel safer," Wally said.
Wally said he has promised that people will feel safe in the neighborhood after the site is in operation, but that's not the way things have gone unnoticed, and better packaging is needed to cope with things.
"I consider this to be my personal failure," he said, adding that a significant increase in methane use drastically changed the situation on the site originally created to help opiate users.
Overdose deaths from opiates increase in Alberta, with the highest percentage of deaths occurring in Calgary.
The site allows people to use drugs in an observable, clean environment as part of the harm reduction model, while offering support such as counseling and addiction treatment.
Between the time the site opened in October 2017 and the end of 2018, it reacted to an 802 overdose involving 228 visitors and more than 54,000 customer visits. But a recent police report indicates that crimes have been reported, and service calls in the area have risen since the site was opened.
More patrols, daily pickups
Calgary's Corporate Security Manager said some new measures to improve public safety have been taken in the Central Memorial Park, which is next to the site, and a review is underway on how to improve the situation by adding things like more cameras. , patrols and better lighting, as is the Olympic Plaza.
"It's a pretty sad accusation, I have to put the security equipment and security into a public park and I do not want to get to a place where we can put big fences," said Owen Kee.
Police patrols are also being strengthened in the area since February 25, and Alpha House has created a team to support people with addiction to the streets in the area. It's happening to take the needle every day, "Wally said.
However, Jessica McAfeeern, a former Met's user who is now a site assistant, said she was worried that consumers felt stigmatized and did not seek help.
"It's really frustrating, these are people I see have come and used the site from the very beginning until they feel they can not trust us anymore because of the increased police presence around," she said.
Recommendations on how to deal with the problems will be presented to the Council on 25 February.