July 23rd, 2024

Addictions recovery facility breaks ground in Lethbridge


By Lethbridge Herald on May 18, 2022.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard Representatives at Wednesday's groundbreaking ceremony for the Lethbridge Recovery Community fling a little dirt at the announcement of the construction of the east side facility.

Dale Woodard
For The Herald

The shovels went into the ground Wednesday afternoon for what will be a Fresh Start for those battling addiction.

In a groundbreaking ceremony, construction began on the Lethbridge Recovery Community, a new 50-bed recovery community that will provide long-term holistic residential treatment for Albertans with addiction and mental health challenges.

The construction contract price is approximately $18 million, including the initial $5-million investment made in 2020 through Alberta’s Recovery Plan and is expected to be completed in late 2022.

Located at 85043 Range Road 212 on Crown land just off the jail road east of Lethbridge, construction of the Lethbridge Recovery Community is expected to create about 100 construction and construction-related jobs and will take place on site and at a modular manufacturing facility in southern Alberta.

Synergy Projects – selected through a public and competitive request for proposal process – will oversee construction of the project. Once operational, the recovery community will employ about 100 staff.

The Lethbridge Recovery Community is part of a province-wide initiative to introduce a new type of intensive addiction treatment not previously provided by Alberta’s government. Recovery communities are also being built in Red Deer, Gunn and on the Blood Tribe First Nation and will be the first of their kind in Alberta.

Recovery communities, also known as therapeutic communities, are used in more than 65 countries around the world.

Scanning the field where the Lethbridge Recovery Community will be situated, Lethbridge mayor Blaine Hyggen – one of a host of guests who put a golden shovel in the ground at Wednesday’s groundbreaking – said the ceremony was “nothing short of amazing,”

“It gets me a little bit emotional because it has been something that has been a battle for quite some time,” he said. “We understand this has been a struggling time for our community, especially throughout the opioid crisis, and not only that, it’s even greater with COVID and the addictions we’re suffering throughout our community have been nothing short of devastating.”

On hand as part of the groundbreaking ceremony, Mike Ellis, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said the Lethbridge Recovery Community will offer a wide range of treatment services.

“We talk about the continuum of care, so we’re helping people with whatever challenges they have with their addiction or mental health issues. The road to recovery helps them to get employed or be in training. Part of the continuum of care is housing, so it’s a wide range of treatment with the ultimate goal of helping people heal addiction.”

The illness of addiction continues to have a significant impact on the city of Lethbridge, its residents and the surrounding communities in southern Alberta, said Ellis.

“People with addiction are struggling to survive this deadly and progressive illness, while residents are struggling with the impacts that addictions and drugs are having on the city and the community at large. Addiction is an illness that requires treatment, and with appropriate treatment recovery can, and of course should be, expected.

“This is why our government is building a comprehensive, recovery-oriented, continual care (facility) that provides everyone the opportunity to recover. Recovery is possible for everyone and everyone deserves an opportunity to get their lives back and give back to the community.”

The 50-bed, long term treatment centre will nearly double treatment capacity in the Lethbridge region and will provide a supportive environment for Albertans in their pursuit of a new life, said Ellis.

“It will be a place where people will have the time, resources, the tools and a strong community to help them recover from the illness of addiction.”

When the centre’s doors open in the spring of 2023, up to 200 Albertans will be able to pursue recovery from addiction in Lethbridge every year, said Ellis.

“This is in addition to the hundreds of publicly-funded spaces that already exist in partnership with local non-profits like Fresh Start, like all of our publicly-funded residential treatment facilities.”

Access to the Lethbridge Recovery Communities will be free for all Albertans, a key component, said Ellis.

“No one should have to stop paying their bills, sell their house or take on crushing debt to access life-saving treatment. On the other hand, nobody should be forced to live in chronic homelessness in a perpetual state of drug use because they cannot access health care. Recovery is possible, and helping Albertans recover from addiction and mental health challenges remains one of this government’s highest priorities.”

Prasad Panda, Minister of Infrastructure, said Wednesday’s announcement was an important day for Lethbridge and called the construction “Alberta’s latest symbol of hope.”

“The Lethbridge Residential Addictions treatment centre will help Albertans and this project is a need in your community,” he said. “This project is part of our government’s commitment to providing modern public infrastructure and to increasing accessibility to programs and services for people experiencing addiction and mental health challenges.”

Those requiring more information can contact Alberta 211  (www.ab.211.ca/) for information about addiction treatments and supports available throughout the province.

Albertans struggling with opioid use anywhere in the province can call the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program seven days a week at 1-844-383-7688 to access same-day treatment.

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