Rejection of addictions centre puts women at risk: Teen Challenge

Daniel MacEachern
Published on August 28, 2014
The site of the former Circle Square Ranch. Teen Challenge Canada had applied to to open an addictions treatment facility for 24 women, but the application was rejected. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

The CEO of a charity that wants to open an addictions rehab centre in St. John’s is disappointed that city council has turned it down.

As reported by The Telegram earlier this week, city council on Monday accepted the planning committee’s recommendation to reject an application from Teen Challenge Canada to open a facility for 24 women at the former Circle Square children’s ranch site.

Councillors expressed support for the project, but said the cost of upgrading the road for year-round usage would be more than $1million.

Those costs are considered the responsibility of the developer, but Teen Challenge says it can’t afford to contribute more than $250,000 towards upgrading costs.

Dan Murray, Teen Challenge’s CEO, told The Telegram Tuesday the charity “remains committed” to opening a centre in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“We are disappointed in council’s decision as it will prevent/delay women in the Atlantic region and Newfoundland and Labrador in particular from getting the help they need,” he wrote The Telegram in an email. Murray also reiterated Teen Challenge’s position that the roadwork needed isn’t as extensive as the city says.

“We also find the decision to be unreasonable in that the city insisted on a $1-million road, suggested we seek cost-sharing, and then rejected it on that basis,” he wrote. “A much lower cost upgrade to the road is possible and would be more than enough, but the city was not prepared to be flexible on this. We encourage the city to reconsider and explore a more practical solution.”

Murray said the charity will consider what to do next.

“I’ll assemble the local ambassador team early September to review all options, one of which would be to approach the province, as well as to determine our immediate possibilities on the property without rezoning,” wrote Murray.

“The difficulty I have with asking the province to fund the road is that it would be a poor use of taxpayers’ funds as the road is overkill at this time.”

Teen Challenge Canada is a Winnipeg-based offshoot of an American charity that provides Christianity-based alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs.

Last year, according to documents filed with Revenue Canada, Teen Challenge Canada had $4.7 million in revenue, 89 per cent of which — more than $4.1 million — was spent on its programs.