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Pat Cullen: Questions about transition housing project deserve answers

The former Victorian Retirement Home in Victoria could become the new home for the U-Turn Drop-in Centre, which is currently located in Carbonear.
The former Victorian Retirement Home in Victoria could become the new home for the U-Turn Drop-in Centre, which is currently located in Carbonear.

By now we should all be familiar with the details of the ground-breaking transitional house for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, proposed by U-Turn.

U-Turn, a Carbonear-based non-profit organization helps those suffering from drug, alcohol and or gambling addictions to overcome them. It now wants to open a live-in facility for 25 to 30 men and women, all from this province, who have already undergone an extensive program of rehabilitation and do not want to return to the debilitating habits which derailed their lives.

The facility, where recovering addicts can stay for up to a year, will be housed in the former Victoria Retirement Home in the centre of Victoria, a town adjacent to Carbonear, population roughly 1,800. The building was donated. The transitional house will have round-the-clock security to help keep residents away from the negative influences which could drag them back to a life of addiction.

People living there will pay for their food and accommodation either from social welfare or regular paycheques. It will also employ a live-in caretaker and eventually an operations manager and part-time social worker. The transitional house will start with four to six male residents and eventually grow to that 25 or 30.

It will also house the U-Turn Addictions Drop-In-Centre, now in Carbonear, which counsels and provides support to the addicted, their families and friends. Self-help groups also hold meetings there.

There have been two public consultations to inform and receive feedback from the locals. It is a wonderfully progressive concept and yet it raises a question that deserves an answer, particularly on the financial side.

It is true that self-sufficiency could be possible when they have a full complement of residents, but at the outset with just four to six people it is not likely.

U-Turn has told the town it is developing a financial and development plan. Shelly Butt, Victoria’s town clerk manager, who was not speaking on behalf of council, said in a Feb. 7 interview that the town has received nothing from them except an application filed in late November 2016 to open the transitional house and a vision statement.

The vision statement outlines the severity of the drug problem in Conception Bay North and the province, as well as a short history and overview of addictions treatment in this area. It also explains how the transitional house will be structured. No financial statement, she said, was submitted with it nor any statement describing how the facility will fit with the town’s development plan.

In a follow-up interview nine days later, Butt repeated that nothing had been received, adding the plan requested by Victoria town council is costly, detailed and will take time to produce.

It is my fervent hope U-Turn will benefit from the $73 million allocated by the federal government for mental health in this province. The money will be spent over 10 years and be available April 1.

But until a financial and development plan is submitted to Victoria town council, it is pointless to wait around hoping for the go-ahead. For that go-ahead will not happen. The establishment of the transitional house could be taken to a plebiscite, but the voter will still want to be apprised of all the facts.

SEE RELATED:

‘Victoria to hold second public meeting on transition house proposal’

‘Transition house get mixed reception in Victoria’

The U-Turn vision statement says Conception Bay North has the highest opioid use in the province. So it is refreshing to see people who have put the habit behind them wanting to ensure they continue on that path.

The transitional house will give them the maximum help to do that. But it won’t get the chance to give that help until the town green lights the project, something it will not do until it knows on paper how it will be paid for and developed.

I realize there is a time lapse between the writing of this column and its publication, so if you haven’t already done so, give them that U-Turn. For by giving them that, you may just give the people you serve a second chance at life.

Pat Cullen is a journalist and community volunteer who lives in Carbonear. She can be reached at 596-1505 or cullen.pat1@gmail.com.

U-Turn, a Carbonear-based non-profit organization helps those suffering from drug, alcohol and or gambling addictions to overcome them. It now wants to open a live-in facility for 25 to 30 men and women, all from this province, who have already undergone an extensive program of rehabilitation and do not want to return to the debilitating habits which derailed their lives.

The facility, where recovering addicts can stay for up to a year, will be housed in the former Victoria Retirement Home in the centre of Victoria, a town adjacent to Carbonear, population roughly 1,800. The building was donated. The transitional house will have round-the-clock security to help keep residents away from the negative influences which could drag them back to a life of addiction.

People living there will pay for their food and accommodation either from social welfare or regular paycheques. It will also employ a live-in caretaker and eventually an operations manager and part-time social worker. The transitional house will start with four to six male residents and eventually grow to that 25 or 30.

It will also house the U-Turn Addictions Drop-In-Centre, now in Carbonear, which counsels and provides support to the addicted, their families and friends. Self-help groups also hold meetings there.

There have been two public consultations to inform and receive feedback from the locals. It is a wonderfully progressive concept and yet it raises a question that deserves an answer, particularly on the financial side.

It is true that self-sufficiency could be possible when they have a full complement of residents, but at the outset with just four to six people it is not likely.

U-Turn has told the town it is developing a financial and development plan. Shelly Butt, Victoria’s town clerk manager, who was not speaking on behalf of council, said in a Feb. 7 interview that the town has received nothing from them except an application filed in late November 2016 to open the transitional house and a vision statement.

The vision statement outlines the severity of the drug problem in Conception Bay North and the province, as well as a short history and overview of addictions treatment in this area. It also explains how the transitional house will be structured. No financial statement, she said, was submitted with it nor any statement describing how the facility will fit with the town’s development plan.

In a follow-up interview nine days later, Butt repeated that nothing had been received, adding the plan requested by Victoria town council is costly, detailed and will take time to produce.

It is my fervent hope U-Turn will benefit from the $73 million allocated by the federal government for mental health in this province. The money will be spent over 10 years and be available April 1.

But until a financial and development plan is submitted to Victoria town council, it is pointless to wait around hoping for the go-ahead. For that go-ahead will not happen. The establishment of the transitional house could be taken to a plebiscite, but the voter will still want to be apprised of all the facts.

SEE RELATED:

‘Victoria to hold second public meeting on transition house proposal’

‘Transition house get mixed reception in Victoria’

The U-Turn vision statement says Conception Bay North has the highest opioid use in the province. So it is refreshing to see people who have put the habit behind them wanting to ensure they continue on that path.

The transitional house will give them the maximum help to do that. But it won’t get the chance to give that help until the town green lights the project, something it will not do until it knows on paper how it will be paid for and developed.

I realize there is a time lapse between the writing of this column and its publication, so if you haven’t already done so, give them that U-Turn. For by giving them that, you may just give the people you serve a second chance at life.

Pat Cullen is a journalist and community volunteer who lives in Carbonear. She can be reached at 596-1505 or cullen.pat1@gmail.com.

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