The site was scheduled to open early in 2020, but now that is expected to be in the spring.
“I’d rather get it right and it be delayed a month or two … then have it be rushed. I think that we’re showing that we’re taking our time. We’re being very diligent in our approach,” said AIDS Saskatoon executive director Jason Mecredi.
He has visited a number of sites across the country and found a cohesive plan with all community partners is the best plan of action before doors open.
The postponement comes after the Nov. 25 city council budget deliberations where Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) was granted funding for eight extra officers to patrol the area around the site.
First responders are hoping the site opening will help tackle the needs of those suffering from addiction.
“From a paramedic’s perspective, we’re not sure. Right now, we average roughly 40 to 60 overdose calls per week is what we’re seeing,” said Medavie Health Services West public affairs director Troy Davies.
“So we will be interested to see if this goes down or goes up. Really right now, we’re just business as usual.”
Mercredi added that AIDS Saskatoon also has to hire its staff before doors open, noting they’re in discussions with Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) about funding.
He said once it is up and running, there will be a minimum of four people at the site at all times — two paramedics and two support workers.
AIDS Saskatoon is hoping the dedicated police officers will help address issues in the area in the lead up to the site’s opening.
“We really do look at the police as our community support and a good community partner. We’re just thrilled that they were able to get these officers. Whether the consumption site opened or not, they needed these officers,” Mercredi said.
The organization is asking SHA for $1.3 million in annual funding to help pay for overhead costs and staff.