A 10-acre parcel of land in north Red Deer will be the new home of the 75-bed addictions recovery community.
Alberta’s government and the City of Red Deer worked together to pick the location within the Chiles Industrial Park, directly adjacent to Highway 2A. Construction of the recovery community is anticipated to start this fall.
The province announced the location on Friday, almost 11 months after the promised $5 million for the project.
“We are appreciative that they announced the location to give our community the certainty, and to cease the speculation on this particular project,” said Mayor Tara Veer.
“The city has been a long-time advocate for the necessity of residential treatment in Red Deer and region for individuals and families struggling with addiction.”
She said it’s an important component of the local response to the national addictions crisis. Until treatment beds are available, the drug treatment court, which is also coming to Red Deer, could not be fully implemented.
The site was selected because there was enough available land for the self-contained facility, it was away from the urban core but still accessible to community services such as health care, and was vacant and able to be temporarily developed within the time frame needed.
Veer said the centre will be separated from other services and amenities that might be detrimental to recovery.
“The province has made it unequivocally clear that they will not be putting other social infrastructure services on that site. The therapeutic community needs to stand on its own.”
The province is purchasing the city-owned land. The agreement is in place for five to ten years, and if the province chooses to move the facility to another site, the land will return to the city.
Veer said the city acquired the land a few years ago and has been underutilized.
“As a consequence of the provincial economy, and exacerbated throughout the pandemic, this particular industrial area has had some business loss that’s of significant concern for our community. This particular location was chosen by the government because there’s enough acreage on the site to allow for the establishment of a community essentially within our community.”
The province will be responsible for zoning and policy considerations. Citizens with questions or concerns about approvals and development processes can reach out to the Ministry of Infrastructure, or to local MLAs Jason Stephan and Adriana LaGrange.
The province will launch a formal request for proposal process to select an agency to operate the facility.
Kath Hoffman, executive director for Safe Harbour Society which runs Red Deer’s medical detox, said the society has always had to send people who were ready for treatment to Calgary and Edmonton.
“Historically, we’ve always been that residential-free zone,” Hoffman said.
“We’re excited to see some more recovery spaces in the community. It’s great that we have both the Dream Centre and this new project coming up for the community. There’s lots of good things happening.”
She said now is a great opportunity to discuss what else is needed in Red Deer. Providing options is always the best.
The province said that recovery communities, also known as therapeutic communities, are a form of long-term residential treatment for addiction and used in more than 65 countries around the world.
“Supporting people to find their path to long-term recovery remains a commitment of our government – but we can’t reach this goal alone. Thank you to the City of Red Deer for their dedication to working together to find a site that considers the needs of those seeking support, businesses, local residents and the community as a whole,” said Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan.
Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education and MLA for Red Deer North, said this announcement is one step closer to adding life-saving support to the community.
“While new to Alberta, recovery communities have proven to be effective in helping individuals reach long-term addiction recovery,” LaGrange said.
MLA for Red Deer South Jason Stephan said a decision on the location for the centre was very exciting news.
“Addictions have the capacity to disconnect our wills and rob us of the power to decide, inflicting suffering on ourselves, our families and communities,” Stephan said.