Why all the secrecy?
Adult residential addictions treatment centre proposed for Harbour Grace
We would like to bring to your readers’ attention, particularly the residents of Harbour Grace, an issue concerning the announcement of an adult residential addictions treatment centre. The centre was originally mentioned in the provincial budget of March 2010, which stated: “Budget 2010 provides $2 million for the planning and development of an adult residential addictions treatment centre for Harbour Grace.
“ The new treatment centre will help meet the needs of individuals who require longer-term residential treatment or those that have severe, persistent addiction issues. The new centre will complement the Humberwood Treatment Centre in Corner Brook, which provides short-term treatment,” according to a March 29 press release.
On April 6, The Compass ran a story in which Harbour Grace Mayor Don Coombs was quoted as saying, “the new facility will create jobs in the town and provide a worthwhile service.”
Asked where the treatment centre will be located, Coombs said he has met with government officials and several sites around town have been looked at, but nothing has been finalized.
On Aug. 11, another announcement was made stating that the opening of the proposed addictions centre was being delayed by one to two months. This announcement seemed to indicate the decision on the proposed centre was final.
Rumours had started to circulate that The SPLASH Centre on Lady Lake Road was being assessed for consideration to accommodate the facility. To find out if this information was valid, we telephoned Mayor Coombs on Aug. 15.
Mayor Coombs indicated he did not have any information pertaining to site location that he could confirm. He did indicate this was an announcement made by the minister of health and they (council) knew very little about it.
Mayor Coombs indicated if we wanted more details we would need to talk to Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services, and MHA for Carbonear-Harbour Grace.
Due to the lack of information provided by Mayor Coombs, we followed through on his advice and made inquiries via e-mail to the Hon. Jerome Kennedy. The purpose of our inquiry was to request a meeting to get more information on the location of such a facility.
Mr. Kennedy indicated our views would be taken into consideration, but there was no need to meet with us at present. He stated this project is fully supported by the mayor, deputy mayor and at least one other councillor.
Not against facility
It should be emphasized at this point that we are not against an addiction treatment centre. It is something that is desperately needed. However, as taxpayers and residents of Harbour Grace, we feel we should definitely have a say as to where this facility should be located and this input should be sought prior to any consultant’s report.
Why waste tax dollars on assessments if the general public is not in favour of such a location? Is this a facility that should be located in any residential area of the community? Would it be in compliance with the municipal plan?
On Aug. 30, a delegation of Harbour Grace residents met with the town council. We were originally allocated 15 minutes to outline our concerns and request for information.
It should be noted Mayor Coombs gave us plenty of time to ask questions and he is to be commended for that. However, council reiterated once again that they could not answer any of our questions because they had not received a proposal from the province. Nevertheless, as previously stated, Mr. Kennedy had indicated he had the support of the mayor, deputy mayor and at least one other councillor on this proposal.
Our question is: How can someone fully support an issue if they don’t have any or all the information? One would think that it would be incumbent on council, as leaders and gatekeepers of our community, to seek out information needed to make an “informed decision.”
We also inquired about the location of the other sites, as referenced by Mayor Coombs in the April 6 Compass article. We were told council does not know where these sites are located.
During the Aug. 30 meeting, we were advised council did meet for two hours with a consultant who was not a consultant. Now can someone explain what that is? Why would council meet with someone who is not a consultant? When is a consultant not a consultant? And even after this two-hour meeting with a consultant/non-consultant, council could not give us any information.
We are having a difficult time trying to comprehend the level of secrecy surrounding this issue. We want to work with council to ensure all the information pertaining to an adult addictions treatment centre is considered and obviously location is an integral factor.
Has council considered the impacts of locating such a facility in a residential zone? Have the needs of existing taxpayers been considered, i.e. property values and privacy? Have the needs of potential patients been considered? What about a client’s anonymity and confidentiality? What other resources are required to address the needs of an addict? What is the profile of an addict with a severe and persistent addiction? What is their mental state during times of rehabilitation?
These are just a few of the many concerns and questions that we have. We acknowledge these concerns are issues that should be clarified by a professional consultant. However, that information should be available to citizens prior to any site assessment.
This proposal is not an industrial initiative that is going to benefit or stimulate community development. It is, however, an initiative that has serious potential to impact the social fabric or our community.
Why all the secrecy? Is this a good news story? Have all the potential sites been considered? Has any consideration been given to places like the under-utilized Whitbourne Youth Centre, which is currently set up as a residence? What about the Harbour Lodge which is scheduled to be vacated in the near future?
While we are not against this facility, we do take strong exception to the fact that it is proposed to be located in the middle of a residential area.
More information is required. This proposed facility is much different than any other treatment facility in Newfoundland and Labrador in that it is designed to treat longterm addicts with severe and persistent addictions.
We want our town council to engage its citizens in the decision making process on this initiative now. Don’t wait for a consultant’s report. Our voices are the first voices that should be heard, not the last. Once thousands of dollars have been expended on assessment and feasibility, how much weight would our concerns carry in the eleventh hour of this process? We are asking the citizens of Harbour Grace to come forward and register their concerns about having such a facility located in any residential zone in our town.
Let’s not be apathetic towards this issue. Get involved and let your council and MHA know how you feel about this issue.
John Dunphy Betty Pembroke Harbour Grace