Thursday, 30 November 2017 11:38

ARCHES a new safe consumption site for SW. Alta.

Written by  Demi Knight
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The building formerly known as Pulse in downtown Lethbridge is currently undergoing a transformation to become the new home of ARCHES and their Safe Consumption Site. The building formerly known as Pulse in downtown Lethbridge is currently undergoing a transformation to become the new home of ARCHES and their Safe Consumption Site.

With drug-related overdoses on the rise across not only the province, but Canada as a whole, Lethbridge is making a move to care for its community and the residents of Southwest Alberta with its new Safe Consumption Site.

ARCHES Lethbridge will be bringing the site to life early in the new year and with this new site will be giving a place of refuge and safety to drug-users within the area to help reduce the risk of drug-related fatalities moving forward.
“Drug use is a widespread problem,” says Stacey Bourque Executive Director at ARCHES. “We have a drug problem in Lethbridge too and with that we have people who are dying from drug overdoses, this year our rate of death is 8.4 per 100,000 which is higher than Calgary and Edmonton. As a community, we definitely have some issues that have been increasing at an alarming rate over the last two and a half years.”
However, it’s not only overdoses southwest Alberta is struggling with, but Lethbridge and surrounding areas have also seen 24% more emergency room visits this year due to opioid poisoning than the provincial average. With these issues tearing through the region, residents and workers with the ARCHES organization knew it was time to do something and have more in place for people using drugs within the area.
“We serve around three thousand people within the city and around three thousand people in surrounding rural areas through them accessing our services or with our outreach and education services,” added Bourque of why this is necessary for southwest Alta.
The New safe consumption site which will take shape at the downtown location, formerly known to the community as Pulse nightclub is the first facility within North America to be granted approval by Health Canada to permit all four modes of consumption including injection, oral, intranasal and inhalation. With aims to save lives and create a space for drug-users to be safe, the new facility will offer six injection booths and two rooms with re-enforced glass for inhalation, there will also be nurses and staff members present at all times while the facility is in use to ensure that the drugs brought in by users of the facility are taken in a safe manner.
Bourque also made it clear that it’s not only Lethbridge residents that will benefit from the new consumption site but also the rural areas within southwest Alberta.
“We have programs where we go to rural communities for outreach and education services. We also have a lot of people who are drug-users and have a vehicle coming into the city to pick up a variety of supplies and re-distributing it to other people that use drugs within that community.”
Bourque also added the same people who come into Lethbridge to pick up safe supplies for drug-use are also the same people that bring in used materials to the site before picking up a new variety of supplies for their rural communities.
Although there are many towns within southern Alberta that do not have satellite sites within the area, Bourque added there is a good reason for that, and that the small rural communities are not being forgotten in this global crisis.
The new Safe consumption site, that will work as ARCHES previously did by allowing rural residents to come in and pick up sanitary supplies as needed, will also work to offer walk-in services for drug-users to register and take drugs in the safest manner possible.
The building is still under construction. Bourque says ARCHES will be open by January or February 2018, and the public is encouraged to tour of the facility. upon completion to gain a better understanding of the service and why it is being offered to Lethbridge and the surrounding areas.

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