The group behind the Red Deer Dream Centre hopes that renovations for the addiction treatment centre will begin by June.
Work on the $2-million project is expected to take nine to 12 months to complete, said centre co-chair Wes Giesbrecht, who acknowledged it is an aggressive timeline to get construction, fundraising and approvals complete.
“The community is hurt. It’s been needing help for a long time,” Giesbrecht said.
The 48-bed, faith-based, live-in addiction treatment facility will run seven-week programs for people struggling with drugs or alcohol addiction. A 200-person assembly hall is also part of the project.
He said although the Dream Centre a Christian-based organization, it will be inclusive of all faiths and beliefs to follow the Christian principle of helping others.
“It’s got God’s fingerprints all over it.”
Last week, Red Deer’s subdivision and development appeal board overruled the municipal planning commission’s rejection of the project proposed for the former Lotus nightclub building at 4614 50th Ave.
The municipal planning commission had refused a development permit for the centre on the grounds that it was not compatible with existing developments or the municipal development plan for downtown.
But the appeal board felt the use fell within the Land Use Bylaw for downtown, which allows for offices, institutional facilities and temporary care facilities.
Giesbrecht said the centre’s board is in the process of deciding whether to limit the facility to men only.
“That’s what we’re leaning towards. According to the numbers, that’s the greatest need.”
He said in the future, the Dream Centre would look at developing a facility for women.
Giesbrecht said the building has been purchased. Paperwork must still be completed for the centre to achieve charity status before it can start accepting donations.
Developers also want to meet with Finance Minister Travis Toews to discuss funding for the project.
“We will apply for every grant, every fund, we can possibly get our hands on.”
He said Dream Centres in Calgary and Los Angeles will be consulted as work on the Red Deer centre progresses.
“We want to learn from their experience. They know what works. There’s no point in trying to re-create it.”
He said people have been worried that clients will be able to wander in and out of the facility whenever they want, and that’s false.
“It’s not like they can just come and go. If they leave, they are leaving under supervision, or terms that are approved. When they come back, there is mandatory drug testing.
“There has to be leniency in some situations, especially when you sign up individuals who have full-time jobs. They may or may not stay at that facility. They might just come for treatment.
“They’re not the ones we’re really worried about. It’s the ones who don’t have homes to go to, the marginalized people who are really struggling.”
The centre will cost about $1 million annually to staff and operate.
Giesbrecht said services will be free to those who cannot afford treatment. Others will be asked to pay, similar to the Calgary Dream Centre.