Empty building could be used for stabilization units: advocate
Published Tuesday, July 30, 2019 1:58PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, July 30, 2019 6:24PM CST
A local advocate, who helps the homeless and those battling addictions, says a controversial building could be part of the meth solution.
St. Boniface Street Links founder Marion Willis toured the empty facility at 800 Adele Ave., which once housed at-risk Indigenous youth, but has sat empty for months.
“It fits the bill, 100 per cent,” said Willis.
Willis said the city is in dire need of stabilization units for those trying to get off meth before accessing long-term treatment. She said the building could offer that plus other services.
Willis notes this type of facility would free up overwhelmed police and health resources.
“It would provide a venue, someplace where people could be safely detained who are in psychosis,” said Willis. “You have ten secure stabilization units on two floors with triage centres in front of both.”
Willis says it would take a number of non-government and government agencies to make this happen.
But there’s a much larger stumbling block.
Earlier this year the Pallister government introduced a law to break the 20-year, $9.4-million lease with the building’s owners.
The province said the deal was not in the best interests of taxpayers.
Premier Brian Pallister said the building was never used for its intended purpose and called the contract “indefensible” and “unjustifiable.”
The legislation never passed, but still the owners sued for $7 million, naming Pallister and Finance Minister Scott Fielding in the claim.
Ken Cranwill, one of the building co-owners, suggests Willis’ plan could remedy the situation.
“We are at a bit of a stalemate right now,” said Cranwill “But I’m here today to be open minded about a possible solution.”
CTV News received this statement from a provincial spokesperson: “Far too often, the previous NDP government entered into untendered contracts on questionable and inappropriate terms. We are taking steps to address this issue and the matter is now before the courts. The province continues to respond to expert advice on enhancing mental health and addictions services, and work in this capacity is well underway.”
Willis knows getting all parties to the table could be a challenge, but she says the conversation needs to change.
“There’s never been a time in this city’s history when we’ve so desperately been in need of this particular resource,” said Willis.