In less than two months, Lethbridge will be home to a supervised drug consumption site, aimed at saving lives amid a local drug overdose epidemic. It will be North America’s first supervised inhalation site and is the only facility so far to be granted approval by Health Canada to permit all four modes of consumption — injection, oral, intranasal and inhalation.
The former nightclub site, located at 1016 1 Ave. S., is under construction and on track for completion in January.
It is to be a “clean and safe space” for drug users to snort, inhale, inject or swallow drugs while under the supervision of health-care professionals and without fear of arrest.
ARCHES Lethbridge, a local harm-reduction agency, will operate the site with wraparound services dedicated to prevention, addictions counselling, housing and employment services.
Jill Manning, ARCHES’ managing director, presented “Does Lethbridge need a Supervised Site for the Consumption of Harmful Drugs?” at Thursday’s SACPA meeting.
The latest provincial data from January to August shows 315 individuals in Alberta died from an apparent drug overdose related to fentanyl, up more than 50 per cent from the same period last year.
Visitor centre plans moving ahead
Parks Canada is moving ahead with plans to build a visitor centre inside the Waterton Lakes National Park townsite.
Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, issued a statement Wednesday regarding the centre.
“A new visitor centre in the Waterton townsite will meet the present and future needs of Waterton Lakes National Park, and is in the best interest of the park, its environment, visitors and all Canadians,” she stated.
She went on to say she had made the decision after Parliamentary Secretary Jonathan Wilkinson travelled to Waterton in August to meet with community organizations regarding the Parks Canada’s decision, and after considering the information provided by stakeholders during that meeting.
“After hearing from community groups at these meetings and after the parliamentary secretary and I subsequently considered the views of stakeholders and reviewed how Parks Canada came to its decision, I have concluded that the selection by Parks Canada of the Block 39 townsite location was the appropriate decision,” she stated.
Man sentenced in Ponzi scheme
Brian Wilfred Clemens is going to jail for running a Ponzi scheme that collected more than $1 million.
Clemens, from Oliver, B.C., was sentenced Tuesday in Lethbridge provincial court after entering a guilty plea on Sept. 25. He was handed a three-year sentence resulting from a joint submission.
Special prosecutor Brian Holtby said the sentence is acceptable as it lies in the range for a fraud case of this size.
“One of the things we considered was that he was pleading guilty and saving about a week of court time,” he said.
He noted Clemens was co-operative during the process and negotiations leading to the joint submission were “amicable.”
The 49-year-old had been charged with a single count of fraud over $5,000 and laundering the proceeds of crime.
He was charged in 2015 after an investigation by the Lethbridge Police Service determined that between September 2009 and March 2014 he used his position as a mortgage associate to approach acquaintances and solicit funds he claimed would be used as “bridge financing” for his real estate clients, promising a high rate of return.
New police beats in operation
The Lethbridge Police Service has been operating within four newly rezoned police beats for the past month. The organization is now preparing to take its next step in January — assigned officer beats.
But before doing that, Lethbridge Police Chief Rob Davis and Police Commission chair Lee Cutforth wanted to provide an update to city council on the organization’s operational strategies and direction going forward.
The plan was earlier shared at last month’s Police Commission meeting. Davis said he brought it forward to council after encouragement from Coun. Joe Mauro.
“He loved the presentation and felt it was really important because we have a new council with two brand new members,” said Davis. “Coun. Mauro loved the philosophy. He talked about how when he was child growing up in Lethbridge and into adulthood, you knew who your police officers were.”
The LPS recently completed two processes to review and enhance operations, including an exercise with a criminal justice management consultant which identified a need for increased efficiencies. They have updated the organization’s mission, vision and values, and realigned patrol zones based on call volume.
The LPS recently completed two processes to review and enhance operations, including an exercise with a criminal justice management consultant which identified a need for increased efficiencies.
Walk faces stigma of addiction
More than two dozen people gathered on the steps of city hall on Thursday morning to bring awareness and end the stigma for people fighting addiction.
Bundled up in winter attire, they walked to Galt Gardens, sharing their message that there is hope for people to overcome addiction. Some held signs that read “Support. Don’t punish,” “Sober is sexi,” or messages of inspiration for sobriety and recovery.
This week marks National Addictions Awareness Week. The city’s inaugural National Addictions Awareness Week Walk was hosted by McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association Mobile Addiction Outreach Initiative.
“It’s about raising awareness about the issue of addiction as well as trying to eliminate the stigma associated with addiction,” said Brittany MacMillan, who works with the Mobile Outreach Initiative and helped organize the walk.
“I think if we can eliminate the stigma … then more people may feel comfortable to ask for help or understand the services that are out there to help them.”
Library program gets grant
A children’s program at the Lethbridge Public Library will be able to continue and expand due to a $3,000 grant.
The library recently announced that they are to receive a Community Action Team Grant of $3,000 from Telus for Mini Tech-Heads, a children’s program.
“We’re excited to receive these funds from Telus as Mini Tech-Heads has been a big hit with the children,” said Trina Orchard, Children’s Services assistant who facilitates the program, in a press release.