Saskatchewan

Addictions centre to relocate to former Souls Harbour building in Regina

Pine Lodge Treatment Centre is planning to open a facility across the street from Sacred Heart Elementary School and Daycare, but the Catholic school division has filed an appeal with the city.

But the Regina Catholic School Division has filed an appeal

Pine Lodge Treatment Centre has purchased the building at 3535 8th Avenue in Regina, which was formerly home to the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission.  (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

An addiction treatment centre which has had to pause operations since a fire in December 2020 plans to open new premises in Regina's North Central neighbourhood in June even though the Regina Catholic School Division (RCSD) recently filed a zoning appeal.

RCSD said it's concerned about Pine Lodge Treatment Centre's proximity to Sacred Heart Elementary School and Daycare, which is just across the street from the new site. 

Pine Lodge, which helps people with drug and alcohol addictions, bought the building on the former site of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, which used to offer aid to the homeless at the location. 

RCSD's appeal states that the city conducted a misapplication of the zoning bylaw for the property, and that the building shouldn't be zoned the same as Souls Harbour.

The appeal hearing is set for Feb. 8 and will be heard by the Development Appeals Board for the City of Regina via teleconference. Property owners and those involved will be free to speak. 

Inpatient treatment centre

Pine Lodge's original site in Indian Head, about 70 km east of the capital, was damaged in a fire in December 2020. The organization normally runs a 28-day inpatient treatment centre with 33 beds for people from all walks of life, and helps about 350 clients a year. 

It hasn't been operational since the fire. And the move to Regina, comes after the council of Fort San, a resort village 70 km northeast of the capital, in March voted against having the centre relocate there

The RCSD filed its appeal in mid-December, shortly after learning that the city of Regina had approved a development permit for Pine Lodge, said Sean Chase, director of education.

However, Chase said the RCSD's main concern is for the students. 

"The proximity directly across the street from our school had us wanting to do a little bit of investigation and find out more about Pine Lodge, how it operates and the clients that they serve," Chase said. 

Pine Lodge is an addictions treatment centre, serving inpatient clients in 28-day periods, that had operated in Indian Head for years. Damage caused by fire and smoke forced the facility closed in December 2020. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

He said the school division filed the appeal as a "placeholder," while it meets with Pine Lodge.

It "simply gives us the opportunity to do some investigation and have some conversations with them to make sure that any potential concerns that we might have would be alleviated," Chase said. 

Andrew Stevens, city councillor for Ward 3 where the new Pine Lodge will be located, said he would have liked to avoided an appeal. 

In early January, the city sent out letters to property owners in the area, informing them of RCSD's appeal.

"There's only a public notification because the [RCSD] has pursued this as a development appeal," Stevens said.

"But what matters for the city is the legal requirement to go to the public and to engage in a communication campaign and a consultation if there's rezoning required. Pine Lodge has the same zoning as the previous facility, so it fits that requirement," Stevens said. 

'Problem-solving conversations'

Meanwhile, RCSD said their talks with Pine Lodge since the appeal was filed have been fruitful. 

"I do want to state and ensure they have been wonderful ... and I would suggest that we are in problem-solving conversations," Chase said. 

We are "attempting to come to an understanding where we would be able to be in a position to move forward as good neighbours."

The new Pine Lodge location is across the street from Sacred Heart Elementary School and Daycare. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Chase said the RCSD shares a common interest when it comes to addictions and recovery education. 

"Nothing that we've done to this point or intend to do is about a disagreement of how essential the work is that they're doing. Honestly for us it has been about fact finding and ensuring that our mandate for our students' safety is met in this case," Chase said. 

"We are 100 per cent in agreement that normalizing the conversation and taking a proactive educational approach is what we're all about in our school division."

There is an RCSD daycare across the street from the new Pine Lodge location. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Neighbourhood communication

However, Chase said the school division could have used more of a heads up that Pine Lodge was coming to the neighbourhood. 

"We would have loved for Regina Catholic to have known a little bit more about the project beforehand and had some conversations and perhaps avoid the appeal scenario. However, I also fully respect how the city of Regina does their business and why they would have that process in place."

Stevens said he has been working to find out what the public wants to know about Pine Lodge coming to the North Central community. He said he plans on assembling a 'frequently asked' question guide for the public. 

"I've been trying to be proactive about this because technically it didn't need consultation. But I think the public should know," Stevens said.

Andrew Stevens, city councillor for Ward 3 in Regina, said he would have liked to avoided RCSD's appeal of Pine Lodge's development permit. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

CBC reached out to Pine Lodge Addiction Treatment Inc. for an interview, but they declined and sent a statement.

"The building provides a natural fit. In fact, some years ago it was home to a women's addiction program," according to the statement. 

"We are discussing these perceived issues about our program and clients with RCSD representatives, and we are confident that we can address their concerns to their satisfaction.

"Our first concern is for safety – of our clients, our neighbours and our staff. We believe that this type of facility is an important one for Regina and one that will garner support as we engage the surrounding community over coming weeks to explain our programs and our approach."

Stevens said he welcomes Pine Lodge in the community. 

"My conversations with folks who went through Pine Lodge have been nothing but positive. We need this in our community," Stevens said, adding that ideally the school board will withdraw the appeal and the city can make progress with the public consultation. 

When asked about the appeal, Pine Lodge told the CBC: "If the appeal proceeds, we will be speaking to the issue and fully expect the appeal will be dismissed."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura is a reporter for CBC Saskatchewan. She is also the community reporter for CBC's virtual road trip series Land of Living Stories. Laura previously worked for CBC Vancouver. Some of her former work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, NYLON Magazine, VICE Canada and The Tyee. She holds a master of journalism degree from the University of British Columbia. Follow Laura on Twitter: @MeLaura. Send her news tips at laura.sciarpelletti@cbc.ca

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