Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Outside the supervised drug consumption site in Lethbridge, Alta., that became the busiest in North America, on April 10, 2019.

Todd Korol

A supervised drug-consumption site in Lethbridge that became the busiest in North America will shut down at the end of the month after a financial audit prompted the provincial government to pull its funding.

Alberta Health Services will open a mobile site on Monday to fill the gap as the government considers the future of supervised-consumption services in Lethbridge and across the province. The United Conservative Party government has questioned the value of the facilities, and commissioned a report released earlier this year that concluded the sites harm surrounding businesses and neighborhoods.

The province ended its funding agreement with ARCHES, the non-profit agency that runs the site, in June, after a report from Deloitte said $1.6-million was unaccounted-for. The report also said $13,000 was spent on parties, staff retreats and gift cards, in addition to travel expenses, including $4,300 for managers to attend a conference in Portugal.

Story continues below advertisement

The ARCHES board, which has not publicly responded to the audit, issued a news release this week that said the site will close on Aug. 31, as would its needle pickup and outreach programs.

The news release said ARCHES has worked with Alberta Health to ensure a smooth transition for its clients.

“The board would like to acknowledge the staff that continue to provide a high level of care to the clients and work through this difficult transition,” the release said.

The province’s associate minister for mental health and addictions, Jason Luan, was not available for an interview. His press secretary, Kassandra Kitz, said in a statement that a mobile site will open in Lethbridge on Monday.

“The site will work with local partners, like the Lethbridge Shelter and Resource Centre, with a heavy emphasis on access to recovery-oriented supports, such as transitional shelter, detox and referral to treatment,” the statement said.

Ms. Kitz said the mobile facility can meet the demand that ARCHES covered, and offer the same services, except inhalation rooms. She said the rooms have not operated in months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said the mobile site is a temporary solution while the government works on a long-term plan for treating addiction in Lethbridge, which she said will include supervised-consumption service.

Story continues below advertisement

Alberta has seven supervised-consumption sites. The government released a report in March that concluded the sites led to an increase in crime and disorder in their neighbourhoods. Experts said the evidence did not support the report’s findings.

The government has said its focus is on rehabilitation and treatment, and it has announced funding to increase the number of drug-treatment beds in the province. It has also announced plans for recovery communities, also known as therapeutic communities, which offer long-term residential treatment programs.

Petra Schulz of the group Moms Stop the Harm said she was skeptical the mobile site can meet the same demand as ARCHES.

“You can’t replace the busiest consumption site in the country with a little mobile site,” she said.

“If there are issues of financial mismanagement, as is alleged, then address those issues — either with the current provider, and if that’s not possible, [Alberta Health Services] should take over the site and start running it until they can transition to a different provider.”

The Opposition NDP’s mental health and addiction critic, Heather Sweet, wasn’t available for an interview. In a statement, she said the government should have appointed a trustee to continue operating the ARCHES facility instead of switching to a mobile site that would be inadequate.

Story continues below advertisement

With a report from The Canadian Press

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies