A proposed addictions recovery centre in St. John’s is up in the air while the non-profit organization behind it figures out a $600,000 problem.
Teen Challenge Canada, a non-profit, Christian-based addictions treatment organization, has applied for land rezoning at 729 Fowler’s Rd. for a year-round treatment centre for 25 women (despite its name, Teen Challenge treats only people aged 18 and up).
Chief municipal planner Ken O’Brien’s report for the city’s planning and development committee, which met Tuesday, recommended rejecting the application because the area — site of the former Circle Square Ranch children’s summer camp — isn’t equipped for year-round occupancy, and cited concerns with snowclearing, servicing and roadwork and water supply for firefighting protection.
“The norm is for the developer/proponent, not the city, to pay to extend the necessary services to the development site,” reads O’Brien’s report.
“The city has estimated the cost to upgrade Fowler’s Road to an acceptable standard to be $600,000 in 2012 dollars.”
Teen Challenge Canada CEO Dan Murray said his organization decided to ask the committee to defer a decision while it decides how to proceed.
“It’s never really been clear to us what our role would be there. What the city’s role would be. What the province’s role would be,” he said Thursday from Ontario, where the organization is based.
Teen Challenge offered $72,000, which is what an engineering report estimated would improve the road enough for a rezoning to the city’s institutional zone.
“We commissioned a bit of an engineering study to see where the worst parts of the road were and we identified three areas that would benefit from some remediation,” he said.
“We got an engineering quote of somewhere in the vicinity of about seventy-five grand in ditch and culvert repairs, that sort of thing. But it’s not enough, I guess, to bring it up to standard.”
Murray said Teen Challenge will keep discussing the issue with the city.
“Often when developers are developing stretches of land, they’ll build in road upgrades, services, that sort of thing,” he said.
“We’re a not-for-profit running on donated dollars, so it’s a little different dynamic. Having said that, we’re not looking for a free ride. We are in discussions with the city. We want to be fully respectful of their process and their concerns.”
The work needed is the only holdup for the facility, said Murray.
“We want to get everything on the table so we understand what it would take, from our end, to make this thing work,” he said, adding there aren’t any other suitable sites for the facility.
“It’s not realistic to even think about going to another site,” he said. “I think this is the third try in Newfoundland to get a Teen Challenge up and running. This is a 130-acre former camp property, all of the surrounding neighbours — and there’s very few of them — are very supportive, so you don’t have any of the typical NIMBY issues that you would have with trying to raise an addiction recovery centre.”