An addiction recovery facility was approved after a long debate at City Hall.
St. Joseph’s Foundation interim Vice President of Addictions and Mental Health Nancy Black explains they’ll buy a former hotel on Dawson Road, and offer 24-hour care to close a gap in the current services for people dealing with addictions.
Foundation officials say clients will stay at the facility for six to nine months, learning life skills, stress management, relapse prevention, and problem solving.
Black says they expect to open the transitional housing facility in the new year, housing up to 30 people at a time.
She says they already have a wait list of at least 40 people.
City Council heard plenty of concerns from neighbours, however.
Betty Baker lives next to the proposed site, and feels the people who would use the centre would be in danger staying so close to the busy highway.
Baker also claims the rural location combined with Thunder Bay winters could leave the staff who supervise clients overnight stranded at times.
“What happens when you can’t get there, and then they’re there all day with only the two [overnight] staff?,” Baker argues. “I live on Hazelwood Drive, there’s always accidents on the corner of Hazelwood Drive and the Dawson Road, because the roads are super slippery.”
She was also one of several who were worried by the idea of living near people dealing with addictions.
Council heard fears from some residents that their homes would be broken into by people looking for money to buy drugs or alcohol, something Black suggests isn’t likely.
“There is a whole host of rules that will be put in place to keep everyone safe, staff and clients alike,” she emphasizes. “People do not enter into these facilities without a lot of forethought and without clear expectations before they come. We don’t want people to be walking into this facility and experiencing another failure.”
Council approved a request to change the zoning for the property to let the former hotel be converted into a residential care facility, under the condition that the city gets to approve any development.