Council could order plebiscite vote
For the first few years, the operation will accommodate four- tosix residents before considering a potential expansion. Clarke emphasized the transition house will be unlike anything else currently existing in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Reaction to the proposal was mixed. While just about everyone in the room seemed willing to acknowledge there is a substance abuse problem in the community, some expressed reservations about having the facility in the centre of Victoria. The building is located on Route 70, a short distance from the main turnoff by the Irving gas station.
“It’s in the heart of a residential area. None of you guys are waking up across the road from this,” said a man who lives directly across from the building.
“I don’t want to have to wake up every morning and explain to my son and my daughter what they are. I don’t want them seeing that everyday,” added a woman who lives close to the building.
Coun. Jennifer Baker discussed the importance of treating addicts as human beings instead of people for the public to shun. She also suggested some fears were misdirected.
“These people want to change their lives. These people are doing something about it,” she said. “Two houses down the road, you’ve got some man or woman selling drugs, pushing it to our children. Sending their children to school to push it on our children. These are the people that we should be worried about.”
U- Turn executive director Jeff Bourne, who lives in Victoria and overcame his own addictions issues before starting up the centre, suggested addicts do not get a fair shake.
“Addiction is classified as a disease. If we were going to open up a place for cancer patients, or some other disease, you’d get a pat on the back,” he said. “People in the grip of addiction, they’ve had enough people kick them in the face. Everybody is after turning their back on them … It’d be an honour for me to bring this back to the town of Victoria, where the vision started … I know the people in here are community people, and they’re lovely people.”
Mayor Barry Dooley said the town is presently considering whether to vote on the proposal or hold a plebiscite vote for the entire community. The next Victoria council meeting is Dec. 13.