Group promises dialogue over treatment facility

A Vernon group admits it needs to do more to alleviate concerns about a treatment home.

A Vernon group admits it needs to do more to alleviate concerns about a treatment home.

About 225 people attended a meeting Thursday to discuss plans for a  10-bed substance abuse facility for men in the 2500 block of 43rd Avenue. There will also  be separate rental suites for men who are not addicted.

“We need to do a better job of communicating and gaining trust,” said Barb Levesque, executive director of the John Howard Society, proponent of the facility.

“We felt people got the information they needed and we have a long ways to go to provide more information to the community. There will be more meetings and we will set up a neighbourhood council.”

Not everyone at the meeting was satisfied.

“They anticipated residents would roll out the welcome mat,” said Betty Holtskog, who is concerned about security.

“We need to understand who’s coming to the facility.”

Nicole, a neighbour who didn’t want her full name used, is not impressed with how the society has addressed the issue.

“The community is frustrated. We’re getting a spin,” she said.

“How will they address people who relapse? It’s our community they will offend in again if they need a fix.”

Neighbours will also take their concerns to city hall, which has stated the proper zoning is in place for such a facility.

“If they can put this through without official consultation, the city needs to change something in its process,” said Nicole.

Coun. Patrick Nicol observed the debate Thursday.

“Once the waters calmed, there were straight answers back and forth. The dialogue got going,” he said.

It’s anticipated the facility will open by Nov. 1.

“What was encouraging Thursday was there were quite a few people in the neighbourhood in support of the project. They came and spoke to us privately,” said Levesque.