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City bylaw amendments needed for supervised consumption site

City Bylaws will need to be amended not once but twice if Grande Prairie is approved for a supervised consumption site. Current land use bylaws don’t allow for such a facility so language would need to be changed to reflect the new service. City Planner Cameron Thompson says the city would have to “define” the service first.

“That would basically ensure that the city has the best public consultation process available for choosing a site should it be necessary.”

Defining the land use bylaw first but not attaching it to a specific area will mean that a second amendment would have to be made in the future once a location was determined. Thompson also says the public consultations will help avoid the spread of misinformation.

“If we are able to engage the public off the bat right in the beginning process then the likelihood of that being an issue dramatically decreases. I think it’s better for the city and for everybody involved to be as open as possible right from the start.”

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HIV North said in December they were hoping to have federal approval by mid-January but there’s no indication that has happened. They are looking at the option of a mobile service which could function without city bylaw changes. They wouldn’t require a physical building and would also not need a business license because they are a non-profit.

Alberta Health says supervised consumption sites are proven to lower disease transmission, they also offer addiction support services and can save lives if an overdose occurs.

The city will be moving forward with plans for community consultations and also plan to work with HIV North as they continue working on their mobile site plans.

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