A Vancouver-based non-profit is proposing to build a nine-bed women's addiction recovery house for the North Shore.
The Turning Point Recovery Society of B.C. held an information meeting for residents living near the site of the proposed house at the very north tip of Lloyd Ave, past Highway 1 on Monday night.
Turning Point, which has run four other recovery houses in Richmond and Vancouver for the last 30 years, is hoping to build and finance the home on land it will lease from the District of North Vancouver, according to Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn chairman of the North Shore Substance Abuse Working Group.
About 40 members of the Edgemont and Pemberton Heights neighbourhoods came out and met the proposal with a "conflicted response," MacKay-Dunn said.
"Some people were concerned that the centre would bring drug addicts into the neighbourhood. Another group suggested there's already drugs being sold and smoked in that immediate neigbourhood. Another fellow wanted us to go to referendum and another fellow wanted the community to decide," he said.
Those were common issues when Turning Point opened its other houses, according to Brenda Plant, executive director of the society. But experience has shown that the society comes to be welcomed by their neighbours, once they get to know them.
"We know that people have concerns when they hear about houses like ours going into their neighbouhoods.
"We want to be able to assure people that we've been doing this for more than 30 years; we're in four different neighbourhoods in the Lower Mainland and we've never had problems with our facilities," she said. "We need to allow people that process in expressing that fear."
Worried neighbours are welcome to come visit any of the Turning Point's other houses if they want to meet the residents, see how houses operate and see how they fit into their neighbourhoods, Plant said.
Residents at Turning Point houses must be medically stable, free of withdrawal symptoms and cannot have a history of violence, Plant said. They must also come voluntarily, not because of a court order.
"We only work with people who want to come to Turning Point," she said.
Turning Point uses an abstinence-only policy when it comes to getting off drugs, which MacKay-Dunn, a former Vancouver police officer with experience on the drug squad, agrees with.
"The best form of harm reduction: stop doing the drugs. That's the message they have," he said.
The isolated and forested location is ideal for recovery, MacKay-Dunn added, because it keeps residents "close to nature and away from temptation."
District of North Vancouver council is expected to discuss the matter on Monday night.
MacKay-Dunn said he hopes for open minds as the matter winds through the lengthy public process ahead.
"Here's the deal: It's one thing to say we are agreed in principle to help others, but not in our backyard. I would argue, if not here, then where? And if not now, then when? And how long will we sit back and essentially download our treatment and rehab responsibilities to the Downtown Eastside?
"It's time that all communities, including this one, stood up and did what they had to do to support their own people."
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