LETHBRIDGE -- It's a topic that has certainly become polarizing for the city and the issue doesn't offer any hope of abating anytime soon.
ARCHES continues its efforts to deal with burgeoning drug addictions and the problems associate with that. However, results will not happen over night.
On Monday (May 28), City officials responded to escalating public concerns about the hazards the needles that litter many street and parks. Council voted to allow the Downtown BRZ (Business Revitalization Zone) Clean Sweep program to expand, and to enhance Mobile and Outreach services by using up to $150,000 in provincial funding from the Outreach Support Services Initiative.
The Executive Director of ARCHES, Stacey Bourque, is asking for patience from the public released the following statement on the issue:
"We are aware of a syringe incident that recently occurred in the community. Nobody wants something like this to happen, especially ARCHES, as we care very much about the safety of every citizen. Our heart goes out to the affected family. All of our efforts are dedicated to reducing the risk to everyone in our community. This is a community issue and we need to work together to ensure all community members are safe and supported. We are in the middle of a public health crisis and it is a difficult balance. ARCHES is responding to this drug crisis, we did not cause it.
ARCHES and other syringe access sites encourage needle exchange however it is not mandatory based on evidence and best practice as outlined by the World Health Organization. Syringe Access programs have been offered in our community since 2001. Providing single use syringes to people who use drugs reduce drug sharing and the possibility of a community member encountering a contaminated needle. Education, training and free biohazard containers are available to all who access syringe programs. In addition, 18 needle drop boxes have been strategically placed around the City to further encourage appropriate disposal of used syringes. ARCHES also picks up needles through its outreach program, peer programs and needle debris hotline.
ARCHES continues to respond to the opioid crisis and provide services to the citizens of Lethbridge. The opioid crisis is a challenging issue that is hitting communities across Alberta and we are striving to ensure the people here are supported. Everyone deserves access to healthcare and healthcare should not be contingent on abstinence. ARCHES provides low barrier healthcare services to marginalized populations who do not or cannot access mainstream healthcare services.
The safety of all community members is paramount and this is not an “us or them” conversation. Reducing the transmission of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and/or Hepatitis C among intravenous drug users benefits the greater population. Communicable disease do not stay contained within one sub-population, they affect everyone".
If you find a needle please call our needle debris hotline number at 403-332-0722. Please include the location, the number of needles, and a number we can reach you at. Pick ups are done 7 days a week with the exception of stat holidays
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