City and downtown partners team up to pilot drug poisoning prevention and response program

News Release
City and downtown partners team up to pilot drug poisoning prevention and response program

The City of Edmonton, Downtown Business Association and Boyle Street Community Services have joined together to pilot a new program to help prevent and respond to drug poisonings in Edmonton.  

Operated by Boyle Street, Overdose Prevention & Response Teams (OPRTs), made up of trained medical professionals and outreach workers, will provide drug poisoning prevention and response throughout the downtown pedway system and the surrounding streets.

“Over the last decade, the number of deaths in Alberta from drug poisoning has dramatically increased, particularly since the start of the pandemic,” said Jordan Reiniger, Executive Director of Boyle Street. “This new program puts critical resources on the ground to reduce the tragic loss of life due to drug poisoning in Edmonton. It also takes a community-based approach that helps to strengthen the resiliency of our city’s core as it regains its footing in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

In addition to responding to drug poisonings, the teams will:

Educate and train downtown businesses on how to respond to drug poisonings

Model ways to interact with the community members and provide information on the causes of substance use disorder

Address basic health issues by conducting assessments and providing minor wound care

Provide referrals and connections to appropriate services

Encourage and arrange for COVID-19, flu, Hepatitis A and B immunizations

Provide needle pickup

“The work of the OPRTs will save lives, reduce trauma and help improve the overall experience for anyone working, living or visiting downtown,” said Puneeta McBryan, Executive Director of the Downtown Business Association. “These teams are providing a critical service in our downtown that helps to alleviate the pressures and stressors of the opioid crisis that have been weighing on our downtown community.” 

The Overdose Prevention and Response Program is funded through a $195,000 grant as part of the City of Edmonton’s Downtown Vibrancy Strategy. It will run from May to September 2022.

“A key piece of a downtown’s vibrancy is ensuring it’s a safe, clean and welcoming place to live, work, study and visit,” said Stephanie McCabe, Deputy City Manager of Urban Planning and Economy. “There is a lot of work to do to advance Community Safety and Well-being in Edmonton, this program is an important step on that journey.”

For more information:

Downtown Vibrancy Strategy

Community Safety and Well-being Strategy


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