Calgary safe injection site causing a spike in police calls and crime
Calgary’s Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre, a safe consumption site located in the Beltline, has started raising major safety concerns among locals living close by.
In 2019 from the months of April to June there were 883 calls to police from members of the public within a 250-metre zone near the Safeworks consumption site.
The call frequency is 40 percent higher than the three year average for that same quarter.
Beltline residents have started finding themselves feeling unsafe with the addition of the Chumir Centre, which has intensified quite recently.
Not only are more calls coming in about suspicious persons, and unwanted guests hanging out in the area, but violent, property, and drug-related crimes have all spiked since the centre started operating 24/7 on April 30th, 2018.
Some of the problems lie in the goals for the centre as outlined in the Alberta Health Services’ website. At the outset, the operation of safe injection sites focused solely on sustaining the health of drug users, not the safety of the surrounding community as well. In pursuit of one noble goal, those living in the Beltline have ended up paying the hidden social costs.
Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld said that reports had shown a correlation between the usage of the Chumir Health Centre and calls to police. Neufeld said that approximately every two unique safe consumption site users generate one call to the police per quarter.
In the July 2019 report on the Chumir centre, it showed that unique visitors to the centre was sitting around 1,179 persons for a total of 5,942 visits during that month.
What may also be of distress to many Beltline residents is how relentless the use of the centre seems to be throughout the day. For 22 hours of the day, use of the site remains consistent at two to three percent of daily users showing up per hour, with only 4 am and 5 am seeing fewer visits.
Residence and business owners near the Chumir centre have also noticed several issues with the execution of the centre.
Although the safe injection site does provide clean needles and a safety net of medical professionals for users to safely use drugs, those living in the areas have noticed a sharp increase in the amount of drug paraphernalia littered on the streets.
Business owners have even started restricting drug users from entering their stores as many have had to call in the police to deal with increased levels of public disturbances from those under the influence.
Much of the issues may be originating from the observation that the safe consumption site has attracted drug sales in the Beltline whether the buyers intend to use them in the Chumir Centre or not. That will also bring more crime with it, in general, as increased in one form of crime will perpetuate others as well.
AHS rules forbid drug sales in the centre, and that seems to be unchangeable as the province cannot directly support the sale of drugs (especially when the quality is often dubious), so the illegal activity will remain spread out nearby the centre.
Just yesterday Alberta’s Associate Minister of Mental Health, Jason Luan, announced that a committee review of the “social and economic impacts” of safe consumption sites will take place around the province including mobile sites.
The committee led by former Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht will be taking into account police crime statistics, needle debris, social disorder, property value trends, emergency medical service calls, and business income.
The review will not take into account the effects that the safe consumption sites have for their users, as Luan said the UCP already has “wealths of information supporting the merits of supervised consumption sites…”, but the main concern now is what adverse effects have come along with the positive, previously ignored.
Overall areas like the Beltline have found it necessary to take a more traditional approach to drug issues in the meantime. Calgary city council just this past March voted for one million extra in police funding to cover the Beltline area.
With early results being so weak it seems unlikely Calgary or Alberta more generally will be in a hurry to open another safe consumption site.
Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole has mocked Trudeau, saying that an empty building in Calgary should be renamed the “Trudeau Tower.”
On Sunday, Teck Resources announced it was withdrawing their oilsands mine application after years of political delay from a disinterested Trudeau government. Although Teck Resources diplomatically blamed “political turmoil,” it remains unclear whether the Liberal cabinet would have offered the final approval.
“Teck’s decision to withdraw the Frontier mine application is more devastating news for Albertans, Indigenous people and all Canadians,” said Conservative leadership frontrunner and former Harper minister Peter MacKay to the bad news for economic development.
Thanks, in large part, to the government’s pipeline inaction, the Albertan economy has suffered. In January, for instance, data revealed that Alberta’s economic activity was at its lowest since the 2015-16 recession. As well as this, the province lost more than 18,000 jobs in January, despite the rest of the country adding over 34,000.
“The fact that Teck Resources has publicly announced that it is pulling its application for a $20 billion Frontier oil sands project is further proof that Trudeau cannot or will not fight for Canada and Canadian jobs,” said Conservative MP and leadership candidate Marilyn Gladu, who used to work in the oil and gas industry for years.
Erin O’Toole has been vocal about the damage Trudeau has done to the province. After Teck Resources pulled their application for the oilsands mine in Alberta, O’Toole said “We’re watching our economy crumble as the government stands by.”
“Thousands of jobs, billions of dollars of investment and billions more of government revenue just disappeared because of Trudeau’s failure to uphold the rule of law. ”
A family in Calgary is attempting to avoid deportation from Canada. The family is from Sri Lanka and two of their children were born in Canada.
Maneth Fernando is the eldest son in the family at 9-years-old. He wrote a letter to Marco Mendicino, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada as a last resort to ask Ottawa to help his family stay in the country.
In an interview with CTV News, Maneth said, “Canada is a safe place with lots of good schools and my friends are here. If I go back, the kids in the Sri Lankan schools will laugh at me because I can only speak English.”
In the letter, Maneth mentioned that he was worried that “something bad will happen” to his family if they are forced to go back to Sri Lanka—his parents birthplace.
His parents are Nishan Fernando and Sulakshana Hewage two of their three children were born in Canada. One is 4-years-old and the other is only 15 months.
It has been arranged by the Canada Border Service Agency that the family be flown to Colombo, Sri Lanka on March 3. This decision has come after years of court proceedings.
Udani Perera, the family’s lawyer, said, “There are two Canadian born kids here and the only options that my clients were given is to put the Canadian-born into foster care and go back to Sri Lanka, which is completely unacceptable.”
The couple fled Sri Lanka and made their way to Canada with their first son in 2012. Fernando told officials that he feared for the safety of his family because his uncle was involved in criminal activity.
He told CTV News, “We were seeking a safe place for my kids and family.”
Federal Court documents showed that Fernando’s uncle was a contract killer, a political fixer and a loan shark. He also had connections to high up politicians.
The uncle that Fernando was referring to has been murdered since the family left Sri Lanka. He was the man who raised Fernando.
Until 2016, Fernando had worker status in Canada. In May of 2016, his permanent residency application was refused. Ottawa said that Sri Lanka did not pose enough of a safety threat to the family who has claimed to have been attacked twice in the past.
In 2018, the claim was rejected again.
Another application was submitted by the family about five months ago. The application is still on a waiting list and cannot stop the family from being sent back while on the list.
The IRCC statement noted, “If applicants have to leave the country, their application for permanent residence will continue to be processed.”
Their lawyer, Perera, thinks the family will not be safe if they return to Sri Lanka.
“There are serious threats to their lives,” she said.
Western Canada has a new group dedicated to helping founders with disruptive ideas go big without leaving the area.
That group’s name? Harvest.
Set up by SkipTheDishes co-founder and former CEO Chris Simair, Harvest has received initial investment capital from Western Economic Diversification Canada, to set up a large venture builder project.
Venture building firms are similar to incubators or accelerators in that multiple ideas are supported by one group, but also quite different in that normally no demo days are run. Instead, venture builders use internal resources to grow companies from within the organization. In effect, a venture builder is a start-up that builds startups.
Currently, Harvest also plans to leverage the unique infrastructure that built SkipTheDishes, in order to support its projects and is looking to set up offices across the Prairies. Possible cities for the company’s headquarters include Calgary, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.
According to CEO Chris Simair, the first company in Harvest’s portfolio, Neo Financial, has already grown to over “20 employees with plans to go to market next year.”
The inclusion of a firm dedicated to disruption could also greatly help the economy out west, which according to the Canadian government, has continuously lagged behind provinces such as Quebec and Ontario when it comes to venture capital funding.
It seems Alberta is in for more cuts.
According to the CBC, Huskey Energy CEO Rob Peabody revealed on a conference call Monday that his firm will be cutting 370 jobs this year as it looks to reduce spending.
“What we’re seeing is that (the reductions) will generate forward savings of about $70 million … per year,” said Peabody, adding the company will take a charge against earnings of $70 million in the fourth quarter to account for the cuts.
“We’re going to continue those efforts to capitalize on the fact we’ve created a more focused and a simpler company.”
While these cuts will provide roughly $70 million in savings, overall spending for 2020 and 2021 will be cut $500 million due to worsening market conditions.
The split will be heavier in 2021, with over $400 million coming in cuts.
Huskey stock has fallen by over 40% in the last year.