Pro­posed ad­dic­tions cen­tre caus­ing con­cern

Har­bour Grace mayor says cit­i­zens’ con­cerns will be heard

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BILL BOW­MAN

A new adult ad­dic­tions cen­tre pro­posed for Har­bour Grace is caus­ing con­cern for some cit­i­zens, es­pe­cially those who live in the Lady Lake Road area. They are seek­ing more in­for­ma­tion about the cen­tre. Mayor Don Coombs con­firmed last week that the SPLASH Cen­tre is be­ing con­sid­ered.

Har­bour Grace Mayor Don Coombs de­nies coun­cil is with­hold­ing in­for­ma­tion on the lo­ca­tion of a pro­posed adult res­i­den­tial ad­dic­tions treat­ment cen­tre in the town.

If any­one be­lieves coun­cil has in­for­ma­tion on the fa­cil­ity it is not shar­ing, “that’s not true,” the mayor main­tains.

Coombs was re­spond­ing to cit­i­zens who have expressed con­cerns the cen­tre could end up in a res­i­den­tial area of town.

While they were sat­is­fied with the time they were al­lot­ted to ask ques­tions about the fa­cil­ity dur­ing an Aug. 30 meet­ing with coun­cil, a del­e­ga­tion of concerned cit­i­zens were not so im­pressed with the an­swers they re­ceived. In fact, they say they came away from the meet­ing un­sat­is­fied and to­tally frus­trated with the out­come.

They feel they are just as much in the dark now as they were when fund­ing for the fa­cil­ity was first an­nounced in the pro­vin­cial bud­get in April.

Two of the concerned cit­i­zens have expressed their frus­tra­tions in a let­ter to the edi­tor on page A4 of this week’s Com­pass. John Dun­phy and Betty Pem­broke state: “Coun­cil re­it­er­ated ... they could not an­swer any of our ques­tions be­cause they had not re­ceived a pro­posal from the prov­ince.”

The cit­i­zens left the coun­cil meet­ing scratch­ing their heads in con­fu­sion af­ter ap­par­ently be­ing told coun­cil had met with “a con­sul­tant who was not a con­sul­tant. And even af­ter this two-hour meet­ing with a con­sul­tant/non con­sul­tant, coun­cil could not give us any in­for­ma­tion,” they wrote in their let­ter.

When The Com­pass asked Mayor Coombs to clar­ify the state­ment, he ex­plained what was meant by that state­ment was sim­ply that the con­sul­tant who met with coun­cil may not nec­es­sar­ily be the same con­sul­tant who will do the fi­nal work on the project for govern­ment.

The cit­i­zens say when they asked the mayor where the cen­tre would be lo­cated, Coombs told them what they had al­ready read in The Com­pass six months ago, that he had met with govern­ment of­fi­cials and, “sev­eral sites around town have been looked at, but noth­ing has been fi­nal­ized.”

Ac­cord­ing to ru­mours cir­cu­lat­ing around town, the cit­i­zens say The SPLASH Cen­tre on Lady Lake Road was be­ing as­sessed as a po­ten­tial site.

For the first time, Mayor Coombs did con­firm last week the SPLASH Cen­tre is in­deed one of the sites be­ing looked at.

How­ever, he was quick to add, what­ever site is cho­sen, “I can’t tell you if the SPLASH Cen­tre will be the site be­cause it may or may not he the one.”

Govern­ment al­ready owns the build­ing, which once served as St. Paul’s School. Con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion Ad­mit­ting a fa­cil­ity like this one is al­ways go­ing to be con­tro­ver­sial, Coombs says, “I think they’re try­ing to get it stopped be­fore it starts.”

How­ever, the concerned cit­i­zens say they are not against the pro­posed ad­dic­tions treat­ment cen­tre. In fact they agree, “it is some­thing that is desperately needed.” But they also feel as tax­pay­ing cit­i­zens, they should have a say as to where the fa­cil­ity should be lo­cated.

Re­fer­ring to the cit­i­zens’ con­cerns, Coombs says he be­lieves, “there is a per­cep­tion and fear among them the area sur­round­ing the fa­cil­ity would be­come a free-for-all en­vi­ron­ment with ad­dicts out in the streets.”

While he un­der­stands their con­cerns, and agrees they have to be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion, the mayor says he feels they are un­founded.

“ That’s not the way it was pre­sented to us” by the con­sul­tant, Coombs notes.

It is his un­der­stand­ing clients who avail of the fa­cil­ity for treat­ment for their ad­dic­tions will go there vol­un­tar­ily af­ter be­ing re­ferred by a med­i­cal doc­tor and ad­dic­tions coun­sel­lor.

“Per­sons need­ing help with their ad­dic­tions won’t just be able to go up and sign them­selves in or out of this fa­cil­ity,” he sug­gests. There will be a struc­tured plan in place to help peo­ple with their ad­dic­tions, he ex­plains.

Pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion

Coombs as­sures concerned res­i­dents they will be con­sulted be­fore any fi­nal de­ci­sions on the lo­ca­tion of the fa­cil­ity are made. He says the con­sul­tant told coun­cil there will be pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions. Mean­while, he says, coun­cil will con­tinue to lis­ten to peo­ple’s con­cerns and they will get a chance for in­put.

While he ac­knowl­edges coun­cil has heard from those with con­cerns about the fa­cil­ity, Coombs notes, “we are also get­ting cor­re­spon­dence in favour of it. We’re get­ting a lot of sup­port for it. It’s got to go some­where. Is this some­thing we don’t want in Har­bour Grace?”

The cit­i­zens say they also at­tempted to ar­range a meet­ing with Jerome Kennedy in hopes the Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA and Min­is­ter of Health and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices could shed some more light on the lo­ca­tion of the fa­cil­ity. Cit­i­zens say while Kennedy has as­sured them their views will be con­sid­ered, he did not feel such a meet­ing was nec­es­sary at this time.

Kennedy could not be reached for com­ment last week.

Some $ 2 mil­lion was pro­vided in Bud­get 2010 for the plan­ning and devel­op­ment of an adult ad­dic­tions treat­ment cen­tre in Har­bour Grace. The new treat­ment cen­tre was to be de­signed to help meet the needs of in­di­vid­u­als who re­quire longer-term res­i­den­tial treat­ment, or those that have more se­vere and per­sis­tent ad­dic­tions.

The new cen­tre will com­ple­ment the Hum­ber­wood Treat­ment Cen­tre in Corner Brook, which pro­vides short-term treat­ment.

Photo by Bill Bow­man/The Com­pass Concerned cit­i­zens, who live in the Lady Lake Road area of Har­bour Grace turned out en masse in front of The SPLASH Cen­tre last Thurs­day to demon­strate their sol­i­dar­ity against a pro­posal that could see the SPLASH Cen­tre be­hind them con­verted into an adult res­i­den­tial ad­dic­tions treat­ment cen­tre. The cit­i­zens feel a res­i­den­tial area is not the proper place for such a fa­cil­ity.

Photo by Bill Bow­man/The Com­pass John Dun­phy and Betty Pem­broke have co-writ­ten a let­ter to the edi­tor (page A4) in which they expressed con­cerns about the lack of in­for­ma­tion on a pro­posed adult res­i­den­tial ad­dic­tions treat­ment cen­tre for Har­bour Grace. Among their fears is that the cen­tre could be housed in the SPLASH Cen­tre on Lady Lake Road, a res­i­den­tial area of town.

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