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Calgary Drop-In Centre looking to offer overdose prevention services

The Calgary Drop-In Centre is hoping to offer overdose prevention services to its clientele amid the looming closure of the city's only supervised drug consumption site.

The province announced over a year ago it plans to close the Safeworks site at the at Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre and replace it with two new sites at "more appropriate" locations.  

Since then, the Calgary Drop-In Centre has been strategizing alternative options to offer the service to many of its clients.  

The aim is to have three different programs including overdose prevention services, withdrawal management and recovery transition beds, located at the facility.

An open house on Tuesday allowed community members who support and are against the initiative to have their say.

"Because of the rate of drug poisonings that we’re currently experiencing, its currently unsustainable to do it with existing resources, because its not working," said Sandra Clarkson, chief executive officer of the Drop-In Centre.

Clarkson says community engagement has been positive, with concerns rising around safety and crime.

"There’s a lot of pressure to get this open and operating as quickly as possible, and people’s lives are on the line here," she said.

"Ideally, (it would be operating) by the end of the year, but a process has to take place."

Officials with the Drop-In Centre say they were approached by the province to offer the services, but they would only be usable by Drop-in Centre Clients.

The centre says the service will not be a supervised consumption site, rather focused on recovery-orientated methods.

The Sheldon M. Chumir supervised consumption site sparked concerns about crime and public safety from downtown residents and workers.

Police noted in the past that crime in the area had increased.

On average, about 4,580 people visit the site monthly.

The new proposal at the Drop-In Centre would include three booths, similar to that of the Chumir site.

"Vulnerable people don’t access services like you or I would, so much research shows that services need to be brought to where the people are at," said Clarkson.

"We can help work with people and connect them to services to ultimately end their addictions and get hem into housing."

Another open house will be held Thursday at Village Commons starting at 5:30 p.m. Top Stories

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