After funding was pulled by the Alberta government last month, ARCHES has set Aug. 31 as the final date for services at Lethbridge’s supervised consumption site (SCS) as well as its needle debris pickup program.
In a letter to nearby businesses, ARCHES said the organization plans to vacate the SCS location on 1 Avenue S. on or before Sept. 30.
“ARCHES has worked closely with Alberta Health in order to ensure a smooth program transition for all impacted clients and stakeholders,” the organization said in a statement. “We will continue to work with Alberta Health on the wind-down of these services and will support their plans for service transition.
“Currently ARCHES does not have details on the future plans for supervised consumption or needle debris pick-up services within the city and have been told directly that if you would like further information on these new services, you are encouraged to reach out to Alberta Health.”
The statement was provided by Mandy Dececco-Kolebaba, owner and consultant of Collaborative Strategies, hired in May by the ARCHES board of directors to complete a third-party operational review. The ARCHES board of directors has yet to publicly comment on the findings of the provincial audit.
The province will now step in to transition the community to services operated by Alberta Health Services.
“The mobile overdose prevention site, operated by Alberta Health Services, will be operational beginning Monday, Aug. 17, allowing for the seamless transition of clients as the grant agreement with ARCHES for the existing supervised consumption site ends,” Kassandra Kitz, press secretary for the associate minister of mental health and addiction, said in a statement.
AHS will reportedly work with local partners — including the Lethbridge Shelter and Resource Centre — with a heavy emphasis on recovery-oriented supports, including transitional shelter, detox, and referral to treatment.
The province has not released staffing levels for the AHS-operated site, but on the topic of capacity for the mobile site said, “Based on the utilization data we’ve received from the current supervised consumption services operator, the capacity will be sufficient to serve the clients.”
The mobile overdose prevention site will be located outside of the shelter.