The ques­tion that de­serves an an­swer

The Compass - - Editorial - Pat Cullen So­cial Af­fairs Pat Cullen is a jour­nal­ist and com­mu­nity vol­un­teer who lives in Car­bon­ear. She can be reached at 596-1505 or cullen.pat1@

By now we should all be fa­mil­iar with the de­tails of the ground- break­ing tran­si­tional house for peo­ple re­cov­er­ing from drug and al­co­hol ad­dic­tion, pro­posed by U-Turn.

U-Turn, a Car­bon­ear-based non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion helps those suf­fer­ing from drug, al­co­hol and or gam­bling ad­dic­tions to over­come them. It now wants to open a livein fa­cil­ity for 25 to 30 men and women, all from this prov­ince, who have al­ready un­der­gone an ex­ten­sive pro­gram of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and do not want to re­turn to the de­bil­i­tat­ing habits which de­railed their lives.

The fa­cil­ity, where re­cov­er­ing ad­dicts can stay for up to a year, will be housed in the for­mer Vic­to­ria Re­tire­ment Home in the cen­tre of Vic­to­ria, a town ad­ja­cent to Car­bon­ear, pop­u­la­tion roughly 1,800. The build­ing was do­nated. The tran­si­tional house will have round-the-clock se­cu­rity to help keep res­i­dents away from the neg­a­tive in­flu­ences which could drag them back to a life of ad­dic­tion.

Peo­ple liv­ing there will pay for their food and ac­com­mo­da­tion ei­ther from so­cial wel­fare or reg­u­lar pay­cheques. It will also em­ploy a live-in care­taker and even­tu­ally an op­er­a­tions man­ager and part-time so­cial worker. The tran­si­tional house will start with four to six male res­i­dents and even­tu­ally grow to that 25 or 30.

It will also house the UTurn Ad­dic­tions Drop- InCen­tre, now in Car­bon­ear, which coun­sels and pro­vides sup­port to the ad­dicted, their fam­i­lies and friends. Self-help groups also hold meet­ings there.

There have been two pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions to in­form and re­ceive feed­back from the lo­cals. It is a won­der­fully pro­gres­sive con­cept and yet it raises a ques­tion that de­serves an an­swer, par­tic­u­larly on the fi­nan­cial side.

It is true that self-suf­fi­ciency could be pos­si­ble when they have a full com­ple­ment of res­i­dents, but at the out­set with just four to six peo­ple it is not likely.

U-Turn has told the town it is de­vel­op­ing a fi­nan­cial and devel­op­ment plan. Shelly Butt, Vic­to­ria’s town clerk man­ager, who was not speak­ing on be­half of coun­cil, said in a Feb. 7 in­ter­view that the town has re­ceived noth­ing from them ex­cept an ap­pli­ca­tion filed in late Novem­ber 2016 to open the tran­si­tional house and a vi­sion state­ment.

The vi­sion state­ment out­lines the sever­ity of the drug prob­lem in Con­cep­tion Bay North and the prov­ince, as well as a short his­tory and overview of ad­dic­tions treat­ment in this area. It also ex­plains how the tran­si­tional house will be struc­tured. No fi­nan­cial state­ment, she said, was sub­mit­ted with it nor any state­ment de­scrib­ing how the fa­cil­ity will fit with the town’s devel­op­ment plan.

In a fol­low-up in­ter­view nine days later, Butt re­peated that noth­ing had been re­ceived, adding the plan re­quested by Vic­to­ria town coun­cil is costly, de­tailed and will take time to pro­duce.

It is my fer­vent hope U-Turn will ben­e­fit from the $73 mil­lion al­lo­cated by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for men­tal health in this prov­ince. The money will be spent over 10 years and be avail­able April 1.

But un­til a fi­nan­cial and devel­op­ment plan is sub­mit­ted to Vic­to­ria town coun­cil, it is point­less to wait around hop­ing for the go-ahead. For that go-ahead will not hap­pen. The es­tab­lish­ment of the tran­si­tional house could be taken to a plebiscite, but the voter will still want to be ap­prised of all the facts.

The U-Turn vi­sion state­ment says Con­cep­tion Bay North has the high­est opi­oid use in the prov­ince. So it is re­fresh­ing to see peo­ple who have put the habit be­hind them want­ing to en­sure they con­tinue on that path.

The tran­si­tional house will give them the max­i­mum help to do that. But it won’t get the chance to give that help un­til the town green lights the project, some­thing it will not do un­til it knows on pa­per how it will be paid for and de­vel­oped.

I re­al­ize there is a time lapse be­tween the writ­ing of this col­umn and its pub­li­ca­tion, so if you haven’t al­ready done so, give them that U-Turn. For by giv­ing them that, you may just give the peo­ple you serve a sec­ond chance at life.


The Town of Car­bon­ear cut off ac­cess to Beach Road last Tues­day as strong waves sent de­bris fly­ing over the break­wa­ter.

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