The Parkside Inn is no longer being considered for a supervised consumption site. HIV North is preparing for the arrival of a mobile site this fall, and had previously identified the 100th Avenue motel and Rotary House as potential locations.
Since then, the City has said it is looking at leasing the building and turning it into supportive housing for people with addictions and mental health issues. HIV North Executive Director Melissa Byers says that change would mean it’s no longer ideal for a site.
“The thing with supportive housing is there’s going to be a team in there 24 hours a day; they will be trained in overdose response and our team is going to work very closely with them.”
The housing facility would also have security and controlled access. Byers says the mobile site will instead just be stationed at Rotary House to make the best use of their resources.
“The good thing about it being mobile is that if we do identify a need in a different location or if something changes and we’re able to set up a permanent site one day, then we’re able to address a need in another location.”
Byers says they have done consultations with neighbours of Rotary House, and most have seemed to be happy to have the safe consumption services available, although there are concerns about more people using the area. HIV North’s hope is that the extra traffic won’t spread to neighbouring properties.
“We have to look at all aspects of community and make sure that we’re meeting the needs of everybody, so we’re willing to work with people and willing to hear their concerns and willing to address them in the best way we know how.”
The site will have an additional nurse and a harm reduction worker. After Grande Prairie had Alberta’s highest rate of fatal opioid overdoses in 2017, Byers stresses the need for the service.
“We are still in the midst of an opioid crisis; people are still overdosing. We are finding that our services, especially at the Saint Lawrence Centre and the Rotary House, we’re kind of running at maximum capacity right now, so obviously reducing overdose-related fatalities is going to be huge.”
The mobile site will be delivered November 16th, and services are expected to be in place by the end of November to mid-December.