ARCHES has been operating in Lethbridge since 1986, starting under the name Lethbridge HIV Connection. It has since evolved to provide a wider variety of services, including the supervised consumption site (SCS) located at 1016 1 Ave. S.
The full report and background can be found here.
According to the Government of Canada website, SCS are typically set up in areas where there is public drug use, and close to established illegal drug markets. However, the Lethbridge location is close to quite a few stores, including a bike service shop, a musical instrument store and a carpet company.
Hamilton’s Carpet One shares an alleyway with the site, and owner Doug Hamilton says its opening has impacted his business.
Dave Khallil, manager at Long and McQuade, said that although his store is located within close proximity to the SCS, the impact hasn’t been as negative as he expected.
“It didn’t impact us as negatively as it could have,” he said. “I think our lesson department is probably the thing that suffered the most with it.
Khallil added that he isn’t sure if the site closing down would be positive or negative for the community moving forward, and that more details are needed.
“We haven’t been hit as hard as some of the other business in the area,” he noted.
Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips has been an avid supporter of the SCS, and was unavailable for interview Friday. However, she did issue a statement about the matter.
“I share the community’s deep disappointment at this mismanagement of taxpayers’ money,” the statement reads in part. “Like MLA Nathan Neudorf, I continue to believe that supervised consumption helps keep Lethbridge safer as part of a full range of public health services.
“I urge the provincial government to immediately appoint a trustee to directly supervise operations so that these services can continue in a transparent and accountable way.”
In an email to Global News Friday afternoon, a representative of ARCHES said the board of directors “will not be able to provide an update today as they are still awaiting information from the Alberta government.”
“They have been told to expect direct communication early next week and are committed to providing the community with an update at that time. ”
The statement went on to say ARCHES “will continue to support the staff during this time so that they can maintain care for the clients.”
ARCHES did not answer any further questions pertaining to the audit or the site’s current operations.