Mayor Clugston weighs in on MLA Barnes' supervised consumption site letter

By Taylor Chartrand
May 6, 2019 - 3:23pm Updated: May 6, 2019 - 7:01pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB - Last week, Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes wrote a letter to Health Minister Tyler Shandro, asking for the development of the proposed supervised consumption site on South Railway Street to be suspended.

Today, Mayor Ted Clugston said he's happy to see Barnes handling this matter, as he had issues speaking with the previous NDP government in regards to the facility.

"I couldn't get my previous MLA or any of the candidates that were running for the NDP government to even admit that it was a provincial issue," explained Clugston. "I even have one candidate tell me it was a federal issue, which is completely false. I was really disappointed in the lack of understanding for what was going on, but it's nice to see now an MLA who is owning a provincial issue, no different than me owning a municipal issue."

From the City's side of things, Clugston said Council is trying to stay out of the supervised consumption site debate.

"Red Deer tried to intervene on the supervised consumption site and the Health Minister at the time, Sarah Hoffman, plopped one right in the middle without any consultations to the citizens of Red Deer. So, we knew we really had no say, but we tried to encourage the province and HIV Community Link to consult with residents in the area."

Clugston said he's heard a lot of conversation that HIV Community Link didn't consult very well, but he believes they did their best.

"You know,? There's millions of dollars of investment, businesses in the area, housing and people who own their homes. They're worried about their property values and who's going to compensate them for that. There was absolutely no response from the previous government to taking any responsibility for those issues."

The Mayor said although this process has been a frustrating one, he gets it and recognizes the need for such a facility in our community.

"But the problem is, and if I had a dollar for every time someone wrote me saying 'I think we should have one, but don't put it in my backyard' and the problem with that is, there's no place where it's not going to effect the people around. So, I get it. But, there is absolutely no place where you can put one of these inside of a municipality that's going to make everybody happy."

And when it comes to this topic, Clugston said he's definitely heard both sides to the conversation.

"When it was looking like the consumption site wasn't going ahead, you hear from those who are in favor of it and then when it looked like it was going ahead, you hear from those who are opposed. So, if we hear from the provincial government that it isn't going ahead, I'm sure I'll be backed up with emails and letters and frankly very extremely nasty Facebook messages on my personal page, with some even going after my children, which is ridiculous."

Clugston says whether or not the site is a go, you should direct your concerns to your MLA.

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