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Researcher wants drug testing, mobile consumption site for Calgary

Last Updated Feb 3, 2019 at 12:00 pm MST

Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne, joined by Mayor Naheed Nenshi, CPS Chief Roger Chaffin and others to announce a new Supervised Injection Site at the Sheldon Chumir Health Centre in downtown Calgary. June 14, 2017. Reporter Jonathan Muma

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – A Calgary researcher who surveyed hundreds of drug users in preparation for the opening of the city’s first supervised consumption site, wants drug testing available at the facility.

Katrina Milaney of the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, helped inform the development of the site, which opened a temporary space at the Sheldon M. Chumir Centre late last year. She said one of the next steps may be to include equipment used by other sites in Canada to test drugs.

“Most people who overdosed didn’t know they had fentanyl in the drugs that they were using and they certainly didn’t know how strong the drugs were, so most of the overdoses were accidental,” said Milaney.

An Alberta Health Services report said from October 30, 2017 until December 30, 2017, Safeworks Supervised Consumption Services had 2,551 client visits. During that time staff responded to a total of 55 overdoses. While a permanent Safeworks facility opened at the Chumir last month, Milaney said Calgary is not done with supervised consumption sites because there are many more people who are overdosing outside the range of downtown.

“People aren’t going to travel terribly far to access a service like this…that’s why we really need to pay attention to other parts of the city,” she said. “We see high overdoses in east Calgary, in Bowness, in other areas and so it’s really important that we are responsive to where people are.”

Milaney said a mobile site is also a possibility that should be considered. According to the Safeworks Monthly Report, crystal meth was used the most at the site (847 times) followed by fentanyl which was used 580 times.