No matter what a city committee decides about the future of the proposed Red Deer Dream Centre, a proponent of the facility expects an appeal will be launched.
The municipal planning commission will make a decision on the live-in drug and alcohol treatment centre proposed for the former Lotus nightclub on Little Gaetz Avenue on Wednesday.
A week ago, there wasn’t enough space in city council chambers for the supporters and opponents who came out for a commission meeting on the project.
“I fully anticipate whichever way the municipal planning commission decides to vote, there will be an appeal process of some nature,” said Wes Giesbrecht, co-chair of the proposed centre.
“I think there are enough voices on both sides who would want to see an appeal.”
The proposal is to build a third floor on the downtown building to house 16 treatment units, with the capacity to treat 48 individuals at a time for seven-week periods.
The main level would be available for conferences and meetings.
As an institutional service facility and temporary care facility, the centre would be considered a discretionary use for the site, and discretionary use decisions can be appealed to the subdivision and development appeal board.
“I know that this is contentious. There are downtown people that don’t want this. I get that. The reality is if we do nothing, downtown is not going to get better. It’s going to get worse,” Giesbrecht said.
He said there’s a lot of misinformation about what happens at a treatment centre.
“It’s not a place where drug addicts hang around. It’s the exact opposite. It actually is a repellent for people who don’t want to get sober.”
He said the centre would make treatment accessible to marginalized people.
“If you have money, you have options. You can get help. But we’re dealing with people who don’t have that ability. We have to change that.
“We need an alcohol and drug recovery centre in the heart of the problem. It’s not in a place where they can’t get to,” Giesbrecht said.
An appeal would have to be filed within 21 days of the commission’s decision. The subdivision and development appeal board has 30 days to hold a hearing once an appeal is received. Within 15 days of the hearing, the board would issue a written decision.
The appeal board is made up of one councillor and four citizens at large.