Construction has begun on a new 50-bed residential recovery community in Lethbridge. It will provide long-term, holistic residential treatment for those with addiction and mental health challenges, according to the province.
While the provincial government said it’s the first of its kind in Lethbridge, other communities have been built, or are set to be built, in other Alberta municipalities, including Red Deer, Gunn and the Blood Tribe First Nation.
The centre’s being built on crown land at 85043 Range Road 212 and is an $18 million project. The recovery community will be open to all Albertans and Lethbridge residents will not have priority access, according to Mike Ellis, associate minister of mental health and addictions.
“The illness of addiction — this continues to have a significant impact on the city of Lethbridge, it’s residents and of course surrounding communities here in southern Alberta. People with addiction are struggling to survive this deadly and progressive illness while residents are struggling with the impacts that addiction and drugs are having on the cities and the community at large,” Ellis said. “With appropriate treatment, recovery can and of course should be expected. This is why our government is building a comprehensive recovery oriented continuum of care that provides everyone the opportunity to recover.”
He said access to the publicly funded community will not cost participants and it will provide residents with time, resources and tools to build connections in the community. He added the goal for everyone who enters is to have them leave employed or in training, with housing.
“No one should have to stop paying their bills, sell their house or take on crushing debt to access life-saving treatment and on the other hand, nobody should be forced to live in chronic homelessness in a perpetual state of drug abuse because they cannot access healthcare,” Ellis said. He said once the doors open in spring 2023, up to 200 Albertans will be able to pursue recovery every year.
A request for proposal will go out to find a service provider for the facility and it will employ about 100 people, according to the province.
“This has been a struggling time for our community and especially throughout this opioid crisis, but not only that — it’s even greater with COVID and the addictions that we are suffering throughout our community has been nothing short of devastating and looking behind us here, this is nothing short of amazing,” said Lethbridge Mayor Blaine Hyggen.
The province also said the projects will help with economic recovery by providing jobs in the construction industry.
“This project will also support approximately 100 well-paying construction and construction related jobs. It also attracts investment into our communities and is an integral part of Alberta’s economic recovery,” said Prasad Panda, minister of infrastructure. “These projects protect the livelihood of tradespeople and others employed directly and indirectly in Alberta’s construction industry. Most of the wages paid to workers on this project predominantly stay here in Lethbridge and the local area”