Reaction to Drew Barnes' letter on proposed supervised consumption site

By Taylor Chartrand
May 5, 2019 - 7:28pm Updated: May 7, 2019 - 4:56pm



MEDICINE HAT, AB - Since it was first announced back in January, the proposed location for the supervised consumption site has raised concerns from many in our community.

But, if Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes has his way, the location will not open its doors.

Late Friday afternoon, Barnes posted a written letter to his Facebook page addressed to Health Minister, Tyler Shandro.

In the letter, which was officially mailed Thursday, Barnes requested the immediate reallocation of the money which has been earmarked for the establishment.

He then stated the development of the building must be suspended until a plan is further developed.

"The NDP never consulted Medicine Hat as to whether or not we wanted one," explained Barnes. "They didn't consult Medicine Hat as to where it would be and they stopped doing the real things...they didn't enhance the real things that could've really helped people."

Barnes believes the roughly $2.9 million should be invested into more counselling and trauma-based treatments.

"In the long-run, that will do more, help more families in Cypress-Medicine Hat." 

One business owner less than 300-meters away from the proposed site is Gregg Martin.

Martin says the news of Mr. Barnes' letter was exciting, as he's been voicing concerns since the site was first announced.

"My concerns, for my business, I have a lot of seniors walking in and out of here," said Martin. "They can't be accosted by people that are needing money and looking for drugs. You know, I feel sorry for those people who have those condos right up the hill. To have this on your front doorstep, it's unacceptable." 

A woman who shares Martins concerns living on 5th street is Connie Chapman.

Chapman believes there is no room for a supervised consumption site in Medicine Hat.

"We have so many families, day-cares and schools in this area that are just blocks away from this site and my biggest concern is violence, damage and my children out in the evenings," said Chapman.

While her concerns may have merit, some people in the region see a need for the supervised consumption site.

Kym Porter lost her son Neil to an overdose a few years back. 

She says while Mr. Barnes' letter does hit key points in needing additional funding for services, there is still room for the consumption site.

"Part of the solution is to help keep people alive and that's the purpose of the purposes of a supervised consumption site."

For now, Barnes says all party's involved will have to wait and see what is to come for the proposed site.

"The UCP owes it to us to take a long hard look at exactly where it's at and do what citizens of Cypress-Medicine Hat want done and that's this injection site re-evaluated," he said.

Barnes hopes to hear something from Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Shandro by the middle of May.

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