Residents concerned about supervised consumption site

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Residents concerned about supervised consumption site in Saskatoon
WATCH ABOVE: People are raising concerns about potential issues in Pleasant Hill – Aug 23, 2019

Ryan Blatchford is one of many Saskatoon residents who has concerns about the supervised consumption site set to open in the Pleasant Hill neighbourhood.

It’s not far from his backyard.

“They’re making heroin, crystal meth, fentanyl all legal on my block,” he said on Friday.

Health Canada has accepted the site of the former Pleasant Hill Bakery for the province’s first consumption site.

Now agencies around the city are trying to determine how they will operate and function.

“The Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) is doing a little bit of proactive work in terms that they’ve gone to different cities to educate themselves on the best practices that other similar sites do,” Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners chairperson Darlene Brander said.

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At Thursday’s commissioner’s meeting, the SPS handed in a report that looked at similar sites in Alberta and found that police need to have a plan in place before its doors open.

The SPS is asking the board to make a pitch to get tax dollars so it can hire eight new officers to patrol the area around the site. Two officers will be in the area during each shift.

The report also looked at crime trends.

In the 250-metre radius surrounding the 20th Street site, calls for service increased from 2017 to 2018 in every category from property crimes to violent crimes to disorder calls and drug offences.

“I know in Pleasant Hill there’s a lot of people shooting up in alleys. There’s a lot of unsafe activities going on because there isn’t a site like this. So this can take some of that activity out of the streets and out of the alleys and into a controlled environment that can connect people to services,” Mayor Charlie Clark said.

Even with the extra police officers, Blatchford is still concerned about what a consumption site will bring to his neighbourhood, citing issues in Lethbridge over that city’s site.

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A motion to ask the provincial government to stop funding to Lethbridge’s site was voted down at this week’s council meeting.

He is also concerned about what bringing in the site will do to property values.

Saskatoon’s site is set to open in the new year.

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