Why all the se­crecy?

Adult res­i­den­tial ad­dic­tions treat­ment cen­tre pro­posed for Har­bour Grace

The Compass - - OPINION -

Dear edi­tor,

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

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