No charges laid following financial investigation into Lethbridge supervised consumption site

Police say there will be no criminal charges involving a supervised drug consumption site in southern Alberta that closed after the province alleged financial problems.

The Lethbridge Police Service says prosecutors supported its finding and determined there wasn’t a reasonable likelihood of conviction.

Alberta’s United Conservative government, citing an audit that revealed financial irregularities, pulled its funding from ARCHES in Lethbridge in July.

A report by accounting firm Deloitte commissioned by the province said $13,000 had been used for parties, staff retreats and gift cards, and thousands more was spent on travel, including $4,300 for a manager to attend a conference in Portugal.

It also said $1.6 million was unaccounted for at the non-profit organization.

Read more: Government pulls grant funding from Lethbridge safe consumption site citing fund mismanagement

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Police say they uncovered records which accounted for that funding.

The facility, one of the busiest supervised consumption sites in North America, closed its doors at the end of August.

Click to play video 'Lethbridge ARCHES supervised consumption site closes its doors' Lethbridge ARCHES supervised consumption site closes its doors

Lethbridge ARCHES supervised consumption site closes its doors – Aug 31, 2020

Police say investigators with the economic crimes unit worked with government officials, auditors, the ARCHES board of directors and the specialized prosecutions branch.

“Through a lengthy and comprehensive investigation, in which special prosecutions was provided with regular updates on its progress, Lethbridge Police were able to uncover records which accounted for the funding in question,” Lethbridge police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh said Tuesday.

“The findings have been shared with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, which concludes the involvement of the Lethbridge Police Service in the matter.”

A quarterly surveillance report from Alberta Health showed a monthly average of 439 clients made more than 60,000 visits to the Lethbridge site in the first three months of this year.


© 2020 The Canadian Press

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