Overdose Prevention Sites

Overdose Prevention Site facilities are temporary medically-supervised, hygienic spaces designated primarily for the purposes of monitoring consumption of previously obtained drugs and responding in the case of an adverse event, such as an overdose. An OPS can be set up in a matter of weeks because they do not require community surveys or consultations. OPS facilities do not have to provide access to additional health and social supports for those who use substances.

On August 31, 2018, the Minister of Health used her authority to mandate the operation of an Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) in Red Deer, directing that Safe Harbour be the temporary location from October 1, 2018 until October 1, 2019.

What is the difference between Supervised Consumption Services (SCS) and an Overdose Prevention Site (OPS)?

Essentially, the permanency and services offered at these sites is what sets them apart from one another.

An SCS site is permanent whereas an OPS facility is temporary and is meant to address an immediate need. An OPS can be set up in a matter of weeks because they do not require community surveys or consultations. In addition, OPS facilities do not have to provide access to additional health and social supports for those who use substances whereas an SCS does provide these services.

Current status of OPS in Red Deer:

  • An OPS started operating in Red Deer on October 1, 2018.
  • The OPS is located on the existing Safe Harbour site at 5246 53 Ave.
  • The OPS trailer, formerly used in Calgary, arrived on the Safe Harbour Site on September 12, 2018.
  • Turning Point, a local social service agency, is operating Red Deer’s OPS.
  • An SCS/OPS working group comprised of administration from Alberta Health, AHS, Turning Point, Safe Harbour Society and The City of Red Deer worked together to get the OPS up and running by October 1, 2018.
  • The SCS/OPS working group will continue to work on a recommendation for a long-term SCS site.
  • The City will receive $80,000 from the province towards strategies to mitigate drug and needle debris. The $80,000 grant will be used to expand needle debris pick up response in targeted areas and increase the frequency of cleanup support in the downtown.

Current Actions:

  • Red Deer City Council has and continues to call on the Province of Alberta to meet and respond to the issue of community safety as it relates to SCS and/or OPS facilities in Red Deer. The Province of Alberta remains unresponsive in their support and funding for drug and needle debris clean-up and related community safety issues.
  • Red Deer City Council has called on the Province of Alberta to assume responsibility for the impact of needle distribution in the community by funding The City’s cost for needle clean up and/or implementing a needle exchange program. With the exception of $80,000 allocated for clean-up in relation to the opening of Red Deer’s OPS site, the Province of Alberta has provided minimal funding or support in this area
  • The City of Red Deer continues to request that the Province develop long-term solutions for Red Deer’s vulnerable population, including an integrated shelter with on-site support services, harm reduction strategies, emergency housing and residential treatment.
  • Following a number of letters to the provincial government in 2017/18, Mayor Veer and members of City Council met with the Minister of Health at the 2018 Alberta Urban Municipalities Conference in September 2018 to discuss plans, potential options/locations related to supervised consumption services in Red Deer.

The City developed and funded the Alcohol and Drug Strategy, which focuses on a four-pillar approach: prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement. The City has petitioned the Province to look beyond harm reduction and develop an overall response to the drug and health crisis. Alberta Health Services should take on a direct role, versus contracting this work out to multiple agencies with limited resources. This is a health issue.

Related Links

Community Safety