Committee gives thumbs-down to addictions centre

Daniel
Daniel MacEachern
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$1M cost to upgrade road is the problem, not the facility, councillors say

The City of St. John’s planning committee has turned down a planned addictions centre because of a million-dollar road to nowhere.

The dirt road portion of Fowler’s Road in St. John’s would cost more than $1 million to upgrade if an addictions centre were located there, members of the City of
St. John’s planning committee said Tuesday.

 

The committee voted Tuesday to recommend rejecting an application from the faith-based Teen Challenge Canada to convert the former Circle Square Ranch children’s summer camp into a residential addictions recovery centre for women.

For the committee, the issue is the work required to upgrade Fowler’s Road, where the centre would be.

City staff estimate the cost of upgrading the road — including paving, servicing, adding drainage and widening to accommodate emergency vehicles — at $1,080,000. Teen Challenge Canada has offered $250,000 towards the cost of the work.

“It doesn’t make any rational sense to put a million dollars, or $750,000, into a road that goes in nowhere,” city manager Neil Martin said at the committee meeting. “We’ve got better places to spend a million dollars.”

“It’s a good use for the property,” said Coun. Danny Breen, who noted health care is a provincial responsibility, and with the centre hoping to draw clients from the Atlantic region, it’s conceivable no one from St. John’s might be using the facility at any given time. “What it’s going to do is not necessarily something that the city’s involved in.”

Glenn Barnes, managing partner at Architecture49, the local firm contracted by Teen Challenge Canada to work on the project, said it was frustrating that the city’s estimate on the cost of the work needed has jumped from $600,000 to more than $1 million.

“The goalposts seem to be constantly moving. We want to put this to bed and forward,” he told the committee. “We understand your concerns. That’s why we’ve put a quarter-million dollars on the table. Serious money for a non-profit providing a community service. … It is already a public road. It’s a city road, your responsibility.”

Jason Sinyard, the city’s director of planning and development, explained the original estimate was a ballpark figure in 2012 dollars, and since then staff have completed a more detailed analysis of the costs of the required upgrading.

Dan Murray, CEO of Teen Challenge Canada, said the amount of work the city says is required is overkill for a small project that would help many people get off drugs and alcohol and help people break generational patterns of addiction.

“They will pursue education, they will get jobs, they will start paying taxes,” he said. “They’re reunited with their families. They heal broken relationships. They’re no longer a burden on community services, on the health-care system, on the justice system. Each one of those lives that’s turned around has a direct impact on their immediate family and their community.”

Teen Challenge Canada hoped to at least get approval in principle, even if with a condition attached that more funding would be provided to offset the cost to the city, but the committee voted to recommend rejecting the application, which will have to be voted on by council, and suggested the non-profit group attempt to secure more funding for upgrading the road, including by seeking provincial funding.

 

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Teen Challenge Canada

Geographic location: Atlantic

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Recent comments

  • R O'Brien Jr.
    August 26, 2014 - 11:02

    If the road was good enough for Circle Square Ranch, then it should be good enough for the Addictions Center. Lets face it, there are not many people whom will be travelling to this Center on a regular basis, and those that would could find a temporary arrangement such as ATVs or trucks shuttling. But to simply make it difficult for this organization to carry out it's mandate in investing in others, is a shame. Money is always available for those that want to make an investment. If Andy Wells was still running the city, there would be little question of the outcome. If we would just go back in time, we would see a replay scenario of Councillor Dennis O'Keefe saying "Black," because Andy said, "White".

  • Randy
    August 22, 2014 - 20:49

    So very sad when the governing body of our capital city cannot portray enough vision and leadership to welcome an organization like Teen Challenge. There likely isn't any other town or city in our great province that is experiencing more affects of addictions born out in crimes of assault, break and enters or even suicides or murders. If there was a willing spirit to be proactive and begin finding solutions to these problems, small talk over road upgrades would never be an issue. Is the spirit of partnership dead at city council? Somehow I am not convinced that is so but it is time for their leadership to shine and send committee back to the table to work out a solution and make this centre a reality.

  • Randy
    August 22, 2014 - 20:38

    So very sad when the governing body of our capital city cannot portray enough vision and leadership to welcome an organization like Teen Challenge. There likely isn't any other town or city in our great province that is experiencing more affects of addictions born out in crimes of assault, break and enters or even suicides or murders. If there was a willing spirit to be proactive and begin finding solutions to this problems, small talk over road upgrades would never be an issue. Is the spirit of partnership dead at city council? Somehow I am not convinced that is so but it is time for their leadership to shine and send committee back to the table to work out a solution and make this centre a reality.

  • Edna Kelly
    August 22, 2014 - 15:12

    this is aweful, road that leads to nowhere, wake up it will lead to helping teens. They must not have any members of their family with an addiction. Everyone should get together and fight for this badly needed place. It turns my stomach when people only think of the cost and not the help it can do. Again wake up

  • Deanna Petten
    August 22, 2014 - 13:12

    I tried to make a comment on thetelegram.com site but I could not get it to work so here goes. What is the committee thinking when it turns down a program that is proven to help not only teens but adults as well base on the cost of a road. Some Newfoundlander s still think we don't have a problem. When was the last time some of these committee members had to visit there family members behind bars because of crimes that are done because of addiction. When was the last time some of these members had a look at there own families or even themselves because everyone on this island could and would benefit from this center. When was the last time they were at shoppers drug store and seen the hundreds of people using a program that does not work when it is a fact that Teen Challenge works. And the road to no where well that is not the case it would be helping families and citizens of this Province to get the help this Province is in direr need of. There are many roads in Newfoundland that lead to no where but they still get funding and they really lead to no where, this road will lead to new lives, saved families, less crime, and rehabilitation, I mean think about it committee don't you want to live where fathers can provide for there own families because they are sober, can hold down a job, and is not stealing to provide for a addiction, mothers can take care of there own children and we don't need as much foster care or children being taking out of homes because the parents have gotten the help they need and can do it themselves. Right now H M P is over run with drug addicted people that need help to change and become better people, think of that cost your going to build a new prison but maybe you should build the road first!

  • Gord
    August 22, 2014 - 09:51

    I smell a rat. Although health is a provincial responsibility, Teen Challenge is a private non-profit organization, so it does not fall under provincial responsibility. To me, the provincial responsibility issue is a red herring. The road belongs to the City of St. John's, so, as with other city infrastructure, the City should upgrade and maintain it. The City should welcome a new treatment centre designed to service the needs of its residents and see Teen Challenge's $250,000 offer as an uncalled-for bonus. Either Council has lost the forest for the trees and is ignoring the benefits to the City and region, or it is using the issue of the road costs as a pretext for rejecting a treatment centre they disagree with. If this had been a provincial government treatment centre, would the City have turned it down on this basis? On another note, the isolated location of this treatment centre is the perfect answer to the "Not in my back yard!" sentiment so commonly expressed when addiction treatment centres are contemplated by communities. Is the Committee saying that they would have approved the centre if it had been located in downtown St. John's, where no road upgrades would be required? I suspect that NIMBY would have spoken with great volume and given Council the voice it needed to do what it really wants... reject the centre because it is faith-based.

  • Deanna Petten
    August 22, 2014 - 09:09

    Does anyone on this committee even know what they are doing. Teen Challenge changes peoples lives, not just teenagers but adults as well. In Newfoundland some people think there is no problem, but when was the last time you had to watch as your child, because of addiction go to prison when if there had been a program he could have gotten help from was not available. My heart is breaking as I read this statement. When was the last time any of you went to shoppers drug store and watched as hundreds of people trying to get clean are using a program that does not work. Teen Challenge does work it is proven to work and a Million Dollars put into the live of the people on this island is only a drop in the bucket to what Teen challenge can do for our Province. And you say a road to no where there are plenty of those on this Island but they still get funding. This is an investment into our Province that needs to take place. The members of this committee if they were honest and looked at there families there is at least one member that could use this service and maybe even the members themselves. Please I beg of you to change your decision and work with Teen Challenge to make this treatment center a priority because if you take a good look at our Province we are in direr need of this center.

  • Mel
    August 21, 2014 - 20:54

    The money used to upgrade the road does not belong to the council in the first place..it comes from and ultimately belongs to the citizens of Newfoundland & Labrador. They need to remember this in the long run. They should give back to an effort that will HELP NL citizens. Maybe if we propose a new SUBDIVISION they will gladly say yes...so they can gather more taxes from the new homes and gather more money that they will then NOT give back towards the betterment of NL. Lovely Job Council....Not.

  • Jan
    August 21, 2014 - 12:22

    The cost of a road is nothing to be compared with the cost of young lives. Giving people a new start in life is most important. Condo are being approved. It's time to stop building and approving so many condos and investing in the lives of people, by more city housing. These young people are the future. Give them a chance

  • Disheartened
    August 21, 2014 - 09:07

    Wow, the attitude of City Council toward this facility is disheartening. How is it that our citizens see the horrific consequences of drug abuse in our region and yet Council has no foresight at the benefits of this facility and the detriment of addictions in our communities. Our drug problems are only getting worse. $750,00 is very little to ask for a road, when Teen Challenge is financially supported by charitable donations. A 'road to nowhere' what a horrific insult to the young ladies who would have been given second chances and a new hope through this program.

  • S
    August 21, 2014 - 07:42

    I spent many, many years going back and forth to this property. It was some of the best years of my life. This is absolutely heartbreaking.

  • S
    August 21, 2014 - 07:38

    I spent many, many years going back and forth to this property. It was some of the best years of my life. This is absolutely heartbreaking.

  • MudderL
    August 20, 2014 - 11:18

    Why is the road an issue? Its a St. John's road, and Circle Square RAnch operated there for 25 years with a horribly maintained road. CBS plows the snow. So why did St. John's envelop that property if they have no intentions on maintaining it? Unfortunately, Teen CHallange is on the wrong side of the road, the other side is CBS. If St. John's wants to amalamage more land, they need to step up and commit to maintaining it. Shame on the council for this....

    • Sick of the Shills
      August 20, 2014 - 14:17

      Lol, that's a leap of logic. Mental Health and addictions treatment are not municipal responsibilities. If new infrastructure is required to support provincial responsibilities, let all the people of the province pay their share - not just the taxpayers of St. John's

  • Karen
    August 20, 2014 - 10:08

    What don't make sense is this; on the heals of the report that 26 youth have died and been covered up by bill 29 - why does our city or government wish to disqualify something that could save lives. For the measly cost of $750,000. - aren't our youth worth the chance? If something don't happen soon, there will be no youth to inspire a positive future for our city, province... do they (the people with the purse strings) believe it is only 'Bad' youth that are in trouble... the future of our community depends on these very youth. Sad day this is!

  • Saucy Face
    August 20, 2014 - 09:41

    I get a kick out of those who say St. John's should stop being so mean and give away a large amount of tax dollars because the region has a lot of people here that have drug issues. Well, since it's a regional issue, maybe Randy Simms and the other mayors of the St. John's Bedroom Communities Association should cost share with St. John's since their citizens are impacted as well. Yeah, Randy Simms will be all for that. Or the city could cut back on the snow clearing budget or raise out taxes here in St. John's to cover the expense .... And then there was silence.

  • Jack
    August 20, 2014 - 09:25

    If St. John's City Council keeps suffering from bureaucratic abuse, won't be long until St. John's and all of Newfoundland and Labrador will become the "Greece of Canada". Just as Nova Scotia is paying the price for bureaucratic and red tape abuse, won't be long until Newfoundland and Labrador will suffer a similar fate. Perhaps sending Mayor O'Keefe to Athens, Thessaloniki, and other major Greek cities to learn about the consequences of red tape abuse is not a bad idea. Keep it up and Newfoundland and Labrador will be annexed to the Greeks, not Canadians.

    • Me Off
      August 21, 2014 - 10:59

      . Agree

  • Jennifer S
    August 20, 2014 - 08:52

    I dont think it would be a road to no where if there ends up being a center to which it leads. Not to mention the cost of addictions to this province in general. Maybe this is a wake up call that eastern health and gov need to up their addiction services in general. We have this center possibly opening and the guy who does the psyadelic drug therapy here now. These are services that cost money which most addicts dont have. Eastern health needs to hire qualifed psychologists and clincial therapists to help these people for long term success. My friend told me once her "counsellor" from eastern health didnt even have an actual background in counseling!! but was her primary counselor!! Lets just say my friend didnt have the most success

  • SR
    August 20, 2014 - 08:20

    How sad. SO many people here in this province especially the in capital city have addictions. The reason for majority of crime is because of addictions, people trying to get that money to support their habits. I really hope there is a plan B......There is such a loud cry for help. Everywhere you turn there are more and more people being hauled in by the devil to these drugs (prescription, cocaine) to name the biggest. We need places for people who really need and want the help to turn to instead of being flown to different parts of Canada...............

  • L
    August 20, 2014 - 08:03

    “It doesn’t make any rational sense to put a million dollars, or $750,000, into a road that goes in nowhere,” city manager Neil Martin said at the committee meeting. “We’ve got better places to spend a million dollars.” ...WOW. And then there will be complaints about the type of activity that happens in the city due to addictions and mental health. Helping people -- what a novel idea... Good ol' newfoundlanders...

  • Julie Huntington
    August 20, 2014 - 07:51

    How sad...I hope our province can come up with another way to help these people in need aside from the minimal programs we have available now. Teen Challenge helps families and helps communities. Lets share good ways of living with those who need it, lets open our hearts and our community roads and our spare big houses and land.

  • Douglas
    August 20, 2014 - 07:24

    Why are we relying on private, religious groups to provice a public service?

    • Gord
      August 22, 2014 - 10:03

      It is clear that there is not enough capacity for addictions treatment in the province, so why not? If we rely on government to provide all these services, we will continue waiting. This organization specializes in this kind of treatment, they are not-for-profit and not reliant on the public purse, and they are prepared to go the extra mile the make it happen. I wish more organizations had this attitude!

  • B
    August 20, 2014 - 07:20

    So the city and the province have no problem making a load of money by selling alcohol but when it comes to helping people with addictions, there is always an insurmountable problem. I don't know how many of these projects have been rejected in this province. Yet the addiction is everywhere-much of the reported crime is people trying to get funds for drugs. Time to step up and help these people. Use the liquor taxes to pay for it.

  • J
    August 20, 2014 - 05:31

    So no plans for an addiction recovery centre for men?

    • Joan
      August 21, 2014 - 07:54

      So sad and disappointed that this was turned down ,Heard a lot of testimonies from young people whose lives were turned around after going through their program ,I hope and pray that things will change and it will workout for the good it is badly needed in NL .

    • Joan
      August 21, 2014 - 07:57

      So sad and disappointed that this was turned down ,Heard a lot of testimonies from young people whose lives were turned around after going through their program ,I hope and pray that things will change and it will workout for the good it is badly needed in NL .

    • D
      August 21, 2014 - 20:16

      yes, that's a big issue I have as well............so many of our young male adults have addictions and there's nowhere for them to turn. There's a youth (12-18) addictions center just opened in grand falls and this teen challenge center is for females only........don't make sense. I've been told by people with addictions that when you're a teenager you don't realize that you have an addiction, and so therefore don't seek help. When you become an adult and try to build a life, that's when you're addiction gets in the way, and by this time a lot are full blown addicts. If you're a youth, you can go to Grand Falls, If you're female you can go to Teen Challenge in St. John's (if all goes ahead). What about the males from 18 up...........no where to turn.......they would like help too.............so sad..........heartbreaking

    • Gord
      August 22, 2014 - 10:59

      I assume that Teen Challenge is proposing a centre for women, because like any good organization, they are exercising discipline and employing a focused approach to their mandate in this region. It would be great if we could also have a Teen Challenge centre for men. I suggest we locate it across from City Hall, or maybe on George Street!