The board of directors of the shuttered addiction recovery centre Talbot House say they will not apply to reopen it.

The trouble for Talbot House — the only addiction recovery centre outside the Halifax area — began in February when Father Paul Abbass, the priest who ran the centre, resigned when a former resident made unspecified allegations about him.

The complaint sparked a government review, which determined the centre in Frenchvale was not following proper procedures.

The Department of Community Services found multiple failings at Talbot House in an operational review in the spring. The department has since issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a new recovery centre.


Father Paul Abbass says laypeople may be asked to do more in the future. (CBC)

Talbot House board member Jim Gogan said they thought about applying but have reconsidered for a number of reasons.

Firstly, he said RFPs are extremely complex for a small board. Also, it requires a recovery centre to accept clients on methadone, which is against the Talbot House philosophy.

"The third one that's caused me a lot of concern and I believe some others on the board as well is that one of the reviewers, one of the reviewers that will be evaluating the RFPs that will be submitted is actually the person that conducted the DCS review of Talbot House," said Gogan.

'All of our parents probably said this to us, didn't they, 'Something good will always come out of something bad.' In some ways I'm trying to figure out what's the good, where's the good?' — Father Paul Abbass

"As you know, the board took considerable exception both factually and interpretively with that report, and I think we felt that it would be very difficult to try to overcome those thoughts and beliefs that are obviously embedded in DCS."  

Gogan says the board wants someone in government, possibly even the premier, to look past the conflict to restore Talbot House while there's still time. He said he wants the government to consider what Talbot House meant to its residents before funding a new centre.

Abbass speaks out

Abbass, former executive director, said the Talbot House could be reopened if the province stepped.

"At the end of the day it is [the residents] voice that matters. If this is not listened to then I think all of have something to be ashamed of," Abbass told the CBC's Steve Sutherland.

In April, Cape Breton Regional Police said no criminal charges would be laid against the priest in Cape Breton who has spoken for the Diocese of Antigonish in recent years.

"It's been up and it's been down. Many times it feels very unreal," he said.

"So I have a range of emotions I probably haven't worked out yet … you try to make sense out of what has been a situation that hasn't made a lot of sense, at least to me."

Abbass said he has still never seen the letter of complaint that added pressure to Talbot House.

He had been the voice of the diocese through the child pornography scandal involving Bishop Raymond Lahey and the sale of church properties to satisfy a settlement with victims of sexual abuse by priests. He said being a Catholic priest during that time compounded his situation at the addiction centre.

"All of our parents probably said this to us, didn't they, 'Something good will always come out of something bad.' In some ways I'm trying to figure out what's the good, where's the good?" he said.

The priest has lived in New Glasgow since resigning.