October 10, 2018 10:13 pm

City of Lethbridge hosts community session in phase two of plan to combat drug crisis

Lethbridge's three-phase plan for combatting the city's drug crisis is underway. On Wednesday, community consultation sessions were held at a local hotel to gain perspective and to look at new solutions to combat the epidemic. Malika Karim reports on community feedback from the sessions.

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The City of Lethbridge is continuing their process to reach a community-based drug strategy.

“Last week at council service, providers presented to council on some of the issues and challenges they’re having, some of the programs they offer and some of the gaps in programming,” Lethbridge City Manager, Bram Strain said. “This week, it’s about community consultation. So we’re talking to the community about issues, challenges and more importantly potential solutions.”

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READ MORE: New Coalition on Opioid Use presents to Lethbridge City Council

Positive feedback came from community members attending the sessions.

“I felt that it went really really well,” Bill Ginther said. “People were very civil, if that’s a good word. The discussion made a lot of sense. People were very open about concerns they had.”

A diverse group of residents signed up, some with firsthand experience of the effects of drugs.

“This drug crisis is affecting everybody and as a former drug addict myself, you know, I’ve lost a lot of people, and I feel that it’s our responsibility to step up and show some leadership,” Dion Mcalister said.

As outlined in the session, members of the community talked through issues felt by the increasing drug crisis and suggested solutions for moving forward.

“One of the biggest issues that was discussed over and over again was the lack of detox, and types of facilities where people can move beyond the stage they’re at,” Bill Ginther said.

READ MORE: Lethbridge doctor shares thoughts on addiction’s role in drug crisis

“The solution comes from a place of love and compassion,” Mcalister said. “It’s not going to come from, you know, going around and beating up drug addicts, that’s not going to solve any problems. We need to enable these people to heal versus enable them to keep doing drugs.”

The city will now combine the input given by service providers and community members to implement a new action plan to tackle issues coming from the drug crisis.

“Nobody wakes up wanting to be a drug addict — it can just happen,” Mcalister added. “We got to help these people.”

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