Plans for an addictions treatment centre in downtown Red Deer have gone back to the drawing board, with many revisions made in anticipation of this Tuesday’s appeal hearing.
Proponents of the Dream Centre project have been tweaking aspects that were found lacking when Red Deer’s municipal planning commission denied their application to repurpose the former Lotus nightclub on Little Gaetz.
Several grounds to overturn the commission’s Oct. 16 decision are listed in a letter filed to the Red Deer subdivision and development appeal board, and signed by the co-chairs of the Red Deer Dream Centre, Wes Giesbrecht and Seth Schalk.
These proponents say the commission erred by objecting to parts of the proposal that could have been addressed at the building permit stage, not the development stage.
One was the intention to offer catered food to clients of the faith-based addictions treatment centre. Commission members had instead wanted the centre to operate a full-service kitchen for clients — even though this had never previously been identified as an issue, the letter states.
In response, the newly revised Dream Centre shows a full-service kitchen, with an eating area.
To address the commission’s concern about the centre having too little recreational/hang-out space for clients, the new proposal shows a recreational-use gymnasium capable of doubling as a place of assembly, with the addition of portable seating.
And several multi-use games or weight rooms were added to the plans.
As for the commission’s contention that the downtown is not a suitable location for the centre, proponents argue it’s the best location, being within a kilometre of the hospital and across the street from the police and fire departments.
In fact, “the downtown is the only district in the City of Red Deer where a treatment centre is permitted as a discretionary use,” the letter states.
Although there are no parking requirements for commercial C-1 zoned properties, the revised Dream Centre proposal seeks to address the commission’s concerns about a lack of nearby spaces by reducing the occupancy to 200 people from the previous 600 for its main-floor assembly space.
Proponents are also disputing the commission’s finding that the Dream Centre is not compatible with development plans for the downtown, noting city administration had, in fact, supported the proposal and recommended its approval.
The original Dream Centre application was rejected after the commission heard from letter writers and speakers on both sides of the issue at two hearings.
While everyone supported the need for a local addictions treatment centre, many businesses and residents objected to the downtown location, arguing that too many social service agencies are already located in the city’s core — and their clients are causing crime and disturbances.
The appeal hearing will be held Tuesday at 1 p.m. in city council chambers.