Red Deer city councillor Lawrence Lee. (Contributed photo.)

Red Deer’s MPC questions activities at proposed Dream Centre

Plans to turn a former nightclub into a drug treatment centre were revealed

The difference between a church and a “convention centre for faith-based gatherings” was hashed out at Wednesday’s development hearing for the proposed Red Deer Dream Centre.

MPC member Troy Corsiatto questioned why there’s a 600-person space on the main level of the drug and alcohol treatment centre being proposed for the former Lotus nightclub on little Gaetz Avenue.

Although applicants have stated it would be used for conventions and possibly be rented to raise revenues, Corsiatto questioned whether the space would eventually be used as a church. He noted the site is not zoned for a place of worship.

Wes Giesbrecht, co-chair of the proposed Red Deer Dream Centre, said it would not be used as a church, but could be used for “faith-based gatherings.”

This prompted MPC member and city councillor Lawrence Lee to question the difference.

Tara Lodewyk, director of planning services for the city, said a place of worship would have set times and dates for services, which is not what is being proposed here.

The group behind the Dream Centre is seeking to run a social enterprise, falling somewhere between a non-profit and for-profit facility. Giesbrecht said the idea is to become self-supporting.

The development application is for a live-in treatment facility in which clients would be free to come and go at will, on a sign-in and -out basis. Giesbrecht said some people need to work or go to health appointments, but will return in the evenings to the safe and supportive environment that’s being modelled on the Calgary Dream Centre.

Applicants are seeking to add a third storey to the former nightclub to transform it into a residential drug and alcohol treatment centre. The proposed facility would have 16 treatment spaces, with the capacity to treat 48 individuals at a time.

Each unit would have sleeping accommodations and a bathroom. There would be two common lounges, a kitchen area and an outdoor patio. As well, the building would contain offices, a 600-person conference and meeting spaces.

City administration is recommending the application be approved, as the proposed development is in compliance with the land use bylaw, supported by the municipal Development Plan for the area and the site is suitable for development.

Instead of the existing cement block, windowless exterior of the former Lotus Club, the redesigned building would have multiple windows, especially along the street level. It would be clad in two tones of siding, have enhanced “architectural elements.”

MPC was told there would be signage and lighting on the building, as well as two recessed entrances on Gaetz Avenue with canopies over the doors.

MPC member and city councillor Vesna Higham questioned how 48 clients will be fed, since there is only a small kitchen and no cafeteria service.

Giesbrecht said there’s space behind the adjoining thrift store for a food service centre. He added there’s time to apply for required permits as the centre will take eight months to complete once it’s approved.

Members of MPC will discuss the application further Oct. 16. They have asked administration for more details about available parking, and about the possibility of applying a sunset clause to the development — which would mean it’s approval could be re-evaluated after a period to take into consideration the centre’s impact on the area.


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