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Lacombe County council urged to stop addictions recovery centre proposal

Adear wants to open a 12-bed recovery centre near Summer Village of Birchcliff
The building that is proposed for a recovery treatment centre near the Summer Village of Birchcliff. (File photo by BLACK PRESS news services)

Neighbours of a proposed addiction recovery centre in Lacombe County strongly urged council to turn down the project on Thursday.

A number of residents, many with homes in the neighbouring Summer Village of Birchcliff, voiced their objections in a public hearing Thursday to the plan by Adeara to convert a large former home later converted to a conference centre and church on the east side of Sylvan Lake into a recovery centre for up to 12 women who will take part in a 90-day faith-based treatment program.

County council was voting on whether to add recovery centre that does not include detoxification treatment as a discretionary use —meaning it must be approved by council — in agriculture-zoned land. Council will consider third reading at its Oct. 27 meeting.

If approved, Adeara must still have a development permit approved by council.

The prospect of having a recovery centre nearby has not sat well with many residents in the area.

Lane Cummins, a father of three young daughters who lives in Birchcliff full time, said the location is not the right place for the facility and he fears for the safety of his family and others who live in the area.

“You can’t stop druggies getting drugs and you won’t stop druggies coming in and out of this facility, especially since we have zero police presence,” said Cummins.

“Please don’t build this detox facility (near) our residents. I appreciate your time and I really hope you hear the needs of our community.”

His daughter, Hope Cummins, said the location is within walking distance of homes and children and Christian camps.

“People are supposed to feel safe where they live and send their kids to camp. You are robbing thousands of this experience by putting up a centre and taking away the safety of citizens.”

“I please ask you, respectfully, to not approve this dangerous centre on behalf of the youth in my community.”

Mary Hays lives in Calgary and has a summer home in Birchcliff that has been in the family since the 1950s and they are the closest neighbour to the site.

“I do not believe an agricultural property should become the home of a drug treatment recovery centre,” she said. “I am greatly alarmed by this usage.”

She is concerned about the security of people’s homes, many of which are empty off-season, in an area with little policing, she said.

“We have no community watch at this time and I do not see this as fitting with our historic land use.”

Another full-time Birchcliff resident with a family of five who gathered names on a petition opposed to the location, said there is much opposition.

“I am strongly against this. There is no doubt that treatment centres are important and they are much-needed facilities within Alberta, but this is not the correct location.”

The area also does not have the resources and the public support for a treatment centre, which would be located near three children’s camps that attract thousands each year, she said.

“I know I would not want my young daughters sleeping in a tent next to an addiction treatment centre.”

Benoit Trudeau, a consultant with Edmonton’s Work On That Inc., said Adeara’s program has a better than 80 per cent sobriety success rate after five years, which is higher than most other programs.

A main reason for the success is that women’s children are included in the recovery process, said Trudeau. “I believe that makes a huge difference.”

The program is accredited by both federal and provincial agencies and caters to women who have already successfully completed detox programs. Adeara’s treatment involves a dry program where even smoking is not allowed and women must stay on the property unless accompanied by staff to attend church or medical appointments.

The facility has full-time staff on at all times. In Edmonton, where Adeara has run a similar program in a 12-unit apartment, there have not been any problems requiring police in its 20 years.

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