Supervised consumption site approved for Calgary’s Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre

A injection kit is seen inside the Fraser Health supervised consumption site in Surrey, B.C.
A injection kit is seen inside the Fraser Health supervised consumption site in Surrey, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The provincial government announced Friday that Calgary will become the first city in Alberta to operate a supervised consumption site.

The site at the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre has been approved by Health Canada, along with four sites in Edmonton and one in Lethbridge, which are expected to open in late 2017 or early 2018.

READ MORE: Supervised opioid consumption site planned for Calgary, 4 applications in Edmonton

In Calgary, the site will operate in a temporary facility in the parking lot at the Chumir until a permanent area can be constructed within the health centre. The permanent site is expected to open in early 2018.

The downtown health centre already offers dependency services, giving patients access to treatment, Suboxone, methadone and counselling.

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“The opioid crisis has had a devastating impact on families and communities in Calgary,” Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne said Friday. “By bringing supervised consumption services to [the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre] in the Beltline neighbourhood, we are working to save lives and to help connect people who use substances with vital wraparound health and social supports.”

Payne said the province would be providing $2.2 million for startup costs and renovations to the temporary and permanent locations at the Chumir. The province will also be providing operational funding for the six supervised consumption sites approved for Alberta.

READ MORE: Alberta hopes to set up safe injection site in downtown Calgary

Peter Oliver, president of the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association, said in a news release he was happy to hear the site at the Chumir had been approved.

“We recognize opioid addictions pose a growing public health threat citywide and we support the province’s efforts to help save lives and connect users with wraparound health and social supports downtown and in the Beltline.”

Oliver added they would be “closely following” the building and operation of the site to ensure “safety is a priority” and that construction at the Chumir is “expedited.”

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READ MORE: Calgarians divided over idea of safe injection site: poll

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi called the approval of the Chumir site a “significant step” in ending the opioid crisis facing Albertans.

“We know that supervised consumption services save lives—they are an important part of our coordinated and integrated approach that balances harm reduction, treatment, prevention and enforcement,” he said.

“This is an important day for us as we are one step closer to providing these much-needed services to some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” Alberta Health Services president and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said.

Supervised consumption services will help save lives and will provide opportunities for Albertans struggling with substance use to access additional supports in the community.”

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