The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Chur parliament says yes to drug consumption room despite spiraling costs

Updated at 01 Feb 2024 5:20 pm

The Chur city parliament approved the establishment of a consumption room for drug addicts on Thursday, even though it will cost the city several times more than previously planned. The center faction failed with a rejection motion.

The 21-member city parliament, the municipal council, approved a framework credit of CHF 3.88 million for the construction of the consumption room and a three-year pilot operation by 13 votes to 0 with 7 abstentions. The framework credit replaces a credit of CHF 1.08 million already approved by the municipal council in 2022.

The SP, GLP, Freie Liste & Grüne and SVP parliamentary groups voted in favor of the bill. The Center Party and the FDP abstained from voting. As the matter is subject to a mandatory referendum, the electorate will have the final say on June 9.

The urgent need for a drug consumption room was completely undisputed in the city parliament. Chur has one of the largest open drug scenes in Switzerland, and that in the city park in the middle of the city center.

"Old message not worth the paper"

The Centre Group criticized the almost quadrupling of costs compared to the original proposal. The old message was not worth the paper it was printed on. And the new message had too many unresolved points.

The party submitted a motion for rejection and requested a more detailed message. The motion was only supported by the FDP. It saw the planned consumption room as a "luxury option" with "almost one-to-one care" for addicts.

After a self-critical vote by the responsible city councillor Patrik Degiacomi (SP), the municipal council voted 13 to 7 against the rejection.

"Prepared for a cold shower"

"I prepared myself for a cold shower. They remained objective," said the visibly relieved head of the Department of Education, Society and Culture. An increase in costs from 1.08 to 3.88 million francs naturally required explanation. "If you accuse us of having budgeted too tightly in the first message, then I'll accept that," explained Degiacomi.

Above all, however, he once again referred to the change in drug use due to the emergence of cocaine-based drugs such as base. This requires much closer supervision and greater safety measures than the previous use of heroin.

The old message was based on figures from other Swiss cities before "things blew up in their faces". Since then, all cities have had to absorb additional costs amounting to several million euros, the city council emphasized and was able to convince the majority of parliament.

©Keystone/SDA

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