Group opposed to LOPS makes its voice heard

·4 min read

Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald

A group of concerned citizens are saying enough is enough to the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society.

On Monday night on the southwest corner of Galt Gardens, a group of sign-waving people gathered to protest the LOPS and their supervised consumption site tent.

On this particular night, the LOPS didn’t set up, but protesters still gathered to make their message against the group heard, calling for the end to the LOPS, which had been set up at Galt Gardens.

“We’re here to present the community viewpoint on what is an illegal pop-up tent that has, as its primary intent, enabling the consumption of illegal drugs by whoever they can entice into their tent,” said activist Roy Remus.

The LOPS was formed in September in response to the provincial government closing of the ARCHES supervised consumption site at the end of August.

Since then, the group has set up its own supervised consumption site via a pop-up tent at Galt Gardens and other locations.

A little under two weeks ago, the LOPS had a media gathering at London Park Road, featuring speakers and members of the medical community to speak on behalf of their cause.

On Monday night, protesters voiced their opposition, holding up signs stating “Number of addicts rose after SCS opened!”, “We the taxpayers say arrest them!”, “Enabling Drug Use is really abuse” and “Leaders protect citizens! Vote out council.”

“First of all they’re illegal,” said Remus. “They have no accreditation. In order to do a legal SCS they have to have an exemption to Section 56.1 of the Controlled Drug and Substances act, which is a federal mandate of controlling illegal drugs. Instead, they are just saying ‘That doesn’t apply to us. We can just do whatever we want.’ That is what they told the Police Commission on Sept. 30 when they presented to them. They said right out that ‘We know we are illegal and we don’t really care because the law doesn’t really apply to us.’”

Lou Mate was among the sign-carrying protesters Monday night. He stated simply that enough is enough.

“The law is being broken. We are just average, ordinary citizens and we want the law to be obeyed,” said Mate. “These people cannot carry on like this. This is garbage. We have to get over this. The Police Service has to do their job, city council has to do their job. There is a whole lot more than just this group of people here. There are hundreds, thousands in Lethbridge that are against everything that is going on here and we need to deal with this.

“We need people in positions of authority and power to deal with this situation once and for all instead of giving us this garbage, ‘Yeah, we can’t do this and we can’t do that. We can’t fine them. We’re not going to follow the bylaws’ and all of this kind of crap. Enough is enough. We need to move on. People in Lethbridge need to stand up, and we are.”

Remus said a cause of concern is the movement was started by outside parties.

“This whole thing just arose out of the Vancouver movement that has splinter groups all across Canada,” he said. “They have caused problems in Ottawa and devastation in all sorts of places. Many people dying because of their activities, but they are always saying nobody has ever died in an SCS. But they have died in the parking lot after leaving the SCS after doing drugs there and all of those other things. This whole thing started in Vancouver, spread here and Moms Stop The Harm and various other organizations were instrumental in setting it up when a person came here on Sept. 25. It’s not as if it grew out of the community as the result of a perceived need to help our drug vulnerables. It came from other people trying to upset the community here and trying to destroy what is going on here. Because we are just trying to recover from the ARCHES fiasco.”

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Dale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald