‘A multi-jurisdictional issue’: Mayor wants more collaboration with province on safe consumption site
Mayor Charlie Clark wants a more collaborative approach to addressing the impact of a safe consumption site in Saskatoon.
“This is a multi-jurisdictional issue, and I believe that it requires a problem-solving approach that occurs through collaboration” wrote Charlie Clark in a letter to the Board of Police Commissioners in response to a letter from the Province that denied the board’s request for funds to help with policing.
AIDS Saskatoon is aiming to open a safe consumption site in Saskatoon next year.
In October, the Board of Police Commissioners wrote to the Minister of Corrections and Policing, Christine Tell, asking for funds to help with police resources and support to address potential safety issues in the community.
Minister Tell wrote back saying while there are challenges around safe consumption sites, the City of Saskatoon is responsible for funding the police service and is ultimately responsible for how it distributes it’s resources.
“The provincial government funds areas that are of mutual provincial priority and not strictly a local concern.” Tell said in a Nov. 20th letter to Chair Darlene Brander.
Tell wrote that in 2019, the province provided Saskatoon police with $4.91 million in Municipal Police Grants as a part of the city's $105 million police budget.
Mayor Clark was not able to attend Thursday’s meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners, but wrote a letter proposing the board reach out to Minister Tell for a meeting to discuss how the city and province can collaborate.
“As the research from the Saskatoon Police Service demonstrates, supervised consumption sites are most effective and least disruptive when all relevant players are working in tandem, and I believe that the provincial government has a constructive role to play in this regard.” Clark wrote.
Police Chief Troy Cooper says he will be meeting with the province to discuss the safe consumption site as well as strategies to address drug addictions.
“When we look at some of the success stories, and we look at it through a lens of enforcement only, we might be missing some of the really critical pieces around harm reduction or treatment. And so we need to combine all of those different views to come up with an appropriate response as a community.”