Editorial: Addiction facility great for community

Plans for the new withdrawal bed facility coming to Castlegar. - Fairbank Architects Rendering
Plans for the new withdrawal bed facility coming to Castlegar.
— image credit: Fairbank Architects Rendering

Castlegar city council granted a development permit last Monday to Axis Family Services to undertake renovations at 2528 Columbia Ave. to open an eight-bed, short-term withdrawal facility in March.

There were concerns raised by some councillors on the consultation process, and the inherent safety of the facility for the surrounding community.

Coun. Arry Dhillon was the lone ‘no’ vote on the development permit citing concerns raised by neighbours who told him there was no consultation with them on what was being proposed. He said later in an email that council only received details of the plan and vote in their packages Friday before the meeting.

“I agree that it is valuable to have this facility in the area. They had no idea it was coming in, and they raised concerns on several different fronts. Nobody consulted with the surrounding area. It could have gone a long way,” Dhillon told council.Coun. Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff said she has heard some concerns over security and asked, “is it going to be gated?”

“It’s a care facility,” replied Phil Markin — director of development services — who went on to read the letter from AFR CEO Ann Smith detailing the facility plan, which was included in the meeting package:

• Clients will be cared for to withdraw safely from the substances they have been using.

• They will be provided with healthy meals, supportive counselling and discharge planning.

• Once released, staff will endeavor to connect clients with longer-term support and recovery addiction services throughout the region.

• To participate in the program individuals must be referred by a physician and medically cleared prior to admission.

• While in the program, clients are not allowed to leave the facility — if they leave, they will be discharged and will need a new referral to come back.

• A minimum of two staff will be on site at all times and there will be no sleep shifts.

Reading that, it’s clear this facility is a win-win for the community. This is much needed. Many Castlegar residents have been calling for help in dealing with the addiction problem, and this is a significant step in the right direction. Your backyard is not at risk.

Having said that, more time could have been spent informing area residents of the details of the plan to ease concerns.

Kudos to the snow-clearing crew

With the massive dumps of snow falling on Castlegar over the past week or so, it was impressive to see such a quick and thorough response from the city’s snow-clearing crew.

Columbia Avenue was cleared very early last Monday morning, and was well-maintained throughout the various storms. Sidewalks were also cleared consistently over that time span.

The weather made paper delivery a significant challenge for our carrier and distribution team last week. I heard several stories of cars and trucks getting stuck in snowbanks, or carriers falling or having issues accessing paper boxes. It was a major effort that we need to acknowledge.

If we didn’t manage to reach you with the Feb. 9 edition, we apologize.


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