Crossfield residents grill organizers of proposed recovery centre
Monday, May 12, 2014 11:23 am
Crossfield residents had their voices heard, May 7, as they directed questions to organizers of the proposed Rocky View New Life Centre (RVNLC) at the Crossfield Community Centre.
The open house was the third in a series as members of the New Life Centre Society (NLCS) aims to quell concerns about the facility.
The 160-acre, non-denominational, faith-based facility is a volunteer intake program for men aged 21 to 60 who suffer from drug and alcohol addictions.
The proposed centre is located on the home quarter of the former Hutterite Colony six kilometres west of Crossfield.
NLCS is the owner of the land and has permission to use the Global Teen Challenge Model – a global Christian-based rehab treatment program - at the facility. The proposed facility in Crossfield will be based on the program and curriculum of the Teen Challenge Model, but is an independent program.
The 70-bed rehabilitation centre is five times the size of its neighbour in Priddis, where another Teen Challenge facility exists.
The facility in Priddis hosts 12 intake residents.
The purpose of the open house was to inform residents of changes to the proposed application.
Ken Venner, principal with B&A Planning Group, the group responsible for the New Life application, explained the project has undergone “critical changes in our thinking.”
“First, the land title has been transferred to NLCS, which creates a stable foundation for the project to move forward,” Venner told the crowd. “Second, we have entered into an agreement with Teen Challenge Global, we have also retained the former Executive Director of Teen Challenge Alberta Juan Manigault and the fourth, and arguably the most important change, is the new application proposes a three-year interim approval for the Centre.”
The application was first submitted in 2011 and was withdrawn on November 2013 but will be resubmitted to Rocky View County in June, according to Venner.
Due to the changes, the application must be resubmitted and will ask for approval on a Direct Control Bylaw on the parcel of land to allow for a rehabilitation centre instead of a Hutterite colony..
“All land in Rocky View County has a designated use that determines how is it developed. If an applicant wants to change that use, they must come before council,” said Grant Kaiser, manager of Communications with Rocky View County.
Kaiser said he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the New Life Centre’s case, but generally “Direct Control Bylaw are determined by the developers and approved or amended by council at a public hearing. If there is a proposed change to the land use, the process is not significantly different from any other land use change.”
According to Venner, the three-year period will allow the New Life Centre to move its programs along and have a trial run with just 30 intake residents in the first three years.
“After that, residents will have the chance to look at the project and say ‘this is what they’ve promised and they have lived up to it,’ or ‘hey, we still have some concerns,’” Venner said.
“The applicant would require a Master Site Development Plan for the land in question, then proceed through each stage of approval (Subdivision Approval, Development Permit, Building Permit, etc.),” Kaiser said.
The 12- to 14-month program costs intake residents: $100 for an application fee, a financial commitment of $1,000 with the program raising the rest of the $50,000 per year fee.
Organizers heard concerns over the security of the neighbour residences, safety, the integration of the intake residents into the community, secondary gravel road conditions and the location.
“I live very close to the proposed facility and we were snowed in this winter for six months,” said Crossfield resident Nancy Fraser. “How are you going to maintain the road and remove the snow? Do you have staff onsite for 24-hours, and is there any government funding for this facility?”
“No, there is no government funding (for this facility),” said Manigault. “We would only take government funding grants for infrastructure but not for programming, because we don’t want them telling us what to do.”
NLCS Board Chair Tim Hearn explained the facility has a 4X4 tractor with a blade to remove snow during the winter months.
The facility, according to Manigault, will have staff that live onsite and are available 24-hours a day.
“We will have an on-call doctor and nurse for the facility,” he said. “We will also have counselors and teachers on staff as well.”
Manigault explained all staff will be required to have accreditation from training facilities, as well as undergoing their localized training program.
“Teachers and counselors will have minimum requirements that would include a college degree (four years) in education, Christian education, psychology, or Christian psychology from an accredited post-secondary institution in Canada,” he said.
The RVNLC is not mandated by Alberta Health Services as it is a private facility.
“I find that really scary,” said Bonnie McKague. “Is your security going to be so good that they can’t get out?”
Manigault explained that the facility will not be accepting patients that are court ordered to obtain drug rehab or patients with psychological issues, as “the facility is not equipped to deal with those conditions.”
The secondary gravel roads were of concern for a number of residents that came to the open house, along with issue of dust suppression and repairing the road.
Venner explained that the issues raised over the usage of the road and its condition will be addressed in the upcoming Traffic Assessment Study, set to be completed by the end of the month. The report will be available for the public to see via their website.
Residents questioned the success rate of the program, which organizers touted as a 70 per cent.
Manigault added the program’s drop-out rate was between 30 and 35 per cent.
The studies cited, available on the RVNLC website, is a series of four studies done of individual programs in the United States, not a complete study of the program as a whole.
No Canadian programs – which there are 17 throughout the country – have been through a scientific study, but Manigault said that a few had “anecdotal studies” done.
Of the studies that were available on the centre’s website, the Team Challenge Research Project conducted by Northwestern University in Illinois showed that 86 per cent of the graduates remained drug free and 90 per cent were employed one and two years later.
However, the study of the Team Challenge program in Rehrersburg, Pennsylvania showed that 67 per cent of graduates were drug free as indicated by a urinalysis test, but 87 per cent stated that they were drug free on the questionnaire.
“The demographics of the USA and Canada are similar and that’s why we use the USA studies. Of the studies, the Northwestern Study is the most comprehensive (includes Teen Challenge graduates across the USA) and that is the one we quote from,” said Manigault.
“It should be noted that the Rehrersburg program included the Brooklyn, NY centre which provided the initial program. Students then graduated and moved to Rehrersburg to complete their Teen Challenge program. We will not use that model at the Rocky View centre.”
He added that the Canadian programs also average a 70 per cent graduate rate.
Neighbouring land owner, Bert Pedden expressed his frustration with the proposed use of the property.
Pedden explained that he bought the property 30 years ago, and the intent at the time of purchase, was to use the property as an investment opportunity.
“Now who’s going to buy a place next to a (facility) with drug addicted patients, this doesn’t sound good to me, and now my property is worth s—t,” Penned said.
NLCS’s application is expected to be submitted to Rocky View County in June along with the Traffic Assessment Study.
For more information, visit www.rvnewlifecentre.ca