The group behind a proposal to build a women's addiction centre just outside of St. John's is questioning city council's decision in rejecting its plan.
City councillors voted this week against Teen Challenge Canada's current plan for the 25-bed centre, saying the road to the proposed site is unsafe, and would be too expensive for the city to upgrade.
"We were puzzled as to why the road wasn't upgraded before if safety was a concern," said Teen Challenge Canada's Glenn Barnes.
"We are a little puzzled by [council's decision] to be honest because this road already has year round residents living on it and they have lived on it for a number of years," Barnes added.
The gravel road in question is just off Fowlers Road, near the Chamberlains area of Conception Bay South.
It leads to the property Teen Challenge Canada wishes to use, known now as Circle Square Ranch.
St. John's councillor Tom Hann said council was told that a fully paved road would be necessary to allow ambulances, fire trucks, and other important vehicles easy access to what would become the addictions centre.
A cost Hann quoted to be about $750,000.
City playing a negotiating game
Barnes disagrees with Hann's amount, saying that the only work the road is in need of is some ditching, grading and culvert upgrades.
On Tuesday August 26, a heavy equipment grader was seen doing some work on the road in question.
"Teen Challenge offered to pay 100 per cent of that cost, which is about $70,000," said Barnes.
Despite the vast differences in road costs quoted from both the city's and Teen Challenge's side, Barnes said his group put up even more money to make the women's addictions centre a reality.
"Teen Challenge has [actually] put $250,000 on the table which is significant money for a not-for-profit organization or charity that needs to go out and raise the money," he said.
"What is at play is the cost of upgrading the road," said Barnes.
"It's simply about the money, and who comes to the table with money and what partners come to the table."
Area residents 'support' the treatment centre
The road leads to a number of popular ponds including Paddy's Pond, and is popular with walkers, berrypickers and ATV users. There are a small number of houses at the beginning of the road and cabins further in.
"We have chatted with all the residents on the road in the early days of this project and we received 100 per cent support for this project in this location," said Barnes.
"Not one resident had any problem with this at all, they were all fully supportive."
"By opening this facility here, these women will hopefully get their lives back," Barnes said.
"The importance of having [the facility] here is so that Newfoundland and Labrador women who now have to go away can be treated [at home], close to their children and close to their families as they rebuild their lives."
"There are women who are dying because they don't get the service and treatment they need," said Barnes.
"We know the problem addiction is causing in our province. We know the break-ins at pharmacies [...] and the concerns in the public," he added.
"This facility will save lives."