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Addiction recovery centre takes another planning step in Lacombe County

Zoning changed to allow for recovery centre but development approval still required
Council voted 6-1 in favour of making the Lakeside Recovery Centre a discretionary use in an agricultural district. (Photo by BLACK PRESS news services)

A contentious addictions recovery centre that spawned a petition and roadside protest has cleared a key planning hurdle at Lacombe County.

Council voted 6-1 in favour of making the recovery centre a discretionary use in an agricultural district. Adeara must still apply for and have approved a development permit, which would involve further consultation and another public hearing.

The Lakeside Recovery Centre in a 10,000-square-foot former church and conference centre on 80 acres east of the Summer Village of Birchcliff would provide a 90-day treatment program for up to 12 women, who have already received detoxification treatment and passed an interview process.

The proposal has proven to be controversial. More than 100 people packed an emotional public meeting earlier in the year and a number of residents who live nearby attended a public hearing in council chambers two weeks ago urging councillors to reject zoning changes.

Residents feared the centre would attract crime and argued it was too close to the summer village and three camps popular with children and their families.

A crowd of people, some carrying placards, staged a protest on the road outside the Adeara property a few days after council gave second reading to the zoning change on Oct. 13.

Reeve Barb Shepherd said before voting in favour that RCMP have voiced no concern about a drug treatment centre near Tees, that offers more intensive treatment, such as detoxification, than is proposed by Adeara on the east side of Sylvan Lake, north of the town.

Coun. John Ireland said a survey in which 26 of 36 respondents expressed concern with the potential impact of the recovery centre on property values, crime and traffic levels shows clearly there is opposition to the proposal.

However, a consultants report commissioned by the Summer Village of Birchcliff concludes the recovery centre, which will have a select clientele and 24-hour supervision, will have little impact on crime, property values or local road traffic.

“In my mind, I’m satisfied the property is suitable for the proposed designation,” he said.

Coun. Dana Kreil also referred to the consultant report, pointing out it concluded the impact of the recovery centre on the area would be “minimal.”

Kreil noted that the women who stay at the recovery centre must go through an interview process before being selected and they will be people dedicated to recovery.

Ken Weenink acknowledged that nobody wants a facility like this in their backyard but pointed out it is on 80 acres and screened from other homes.

“I think it’s a really good fit,” he said.

The one vote against came from Coun. Allan Wilson, whose division includes the proposed recovery centre property.

Wilson said he was concerned the presence of the centre would deter people from attending nearby camps and could affect The Slopes, a new housing development located nearby.

Council should consider how the property may be developed long term before making a decision, he said.

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