Alberta Health Services has moved a detox centre in downtown Edmonton to the northeast edge of the city, which some advocates say is too far away from the people who need it most.
Last year, Alberta Health Services told CBC News construction on the west leg of the Valley Line LRT would have a negative effect on patient care at the Addiction Recovery Centre (ARC).
ARC is a 42-bed medical detox facility just north of NorQuest College, at 107th Street and 103rd Avenue.
A sign on the centre’s door on Tuesday said it was relocating to Building 12 at Alberta Hospital Edmonton (AHE) on Wednesday. AHS confirmed the move in an email.
Spokesperson Kristi Bland said AHS explored many relocation options and settled on AHE because it will offer patients “the smoothest transition and best care based on their needs,” but some advocates say the new location is too far from the core.
Angie Staines, the founder of 4B Harm Reduction Society and an Alberta representative for Moms Stop the Harm, said she worries people will show up at the old location and have trouble getting to the new one.
Travelling from downtown Edmonton to AHE, which is on Fort Road, between Anthony Henday Drive and 18th Street, takes about an hour on public transit.
“It’s just another hurdle that the community doesn’t need right now,” Staines said.
Mitchell Johnson, a MacEwan University student who volunteers with the Street Outreach and Resource Team, said he is also concerned about the centre’s new location.
AHE is a psychiatric hospital and Johnson said when he worked in permanent supportive housing with the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta, tenants feared the hospital and were hesitant to be open about their mental health because they worried they would be sent back there.
“I can’t imagine people are going to be happy to have to go back to Alberta Hospital or anywhere in the vicinity of it,” he said.
“It’s just going to retraumatize them and bring up a lot of negative memories.”
AHS spokesperson Kristi Bland said AHS chose the new location after analyzing many other options.
She said the new space has been renovated to suit ARC clients and includes new floors, more shower capacity, new furniture and fresh paint. The building also has more programming space than the downtown centre.
AHE’s fleet of vans and buses will help clients who need transportation to and from the new location, Bland said.
City tried to accommodate AHS
Danielle O’Brien, a spokesperson for the City of Edmonton, told CBC News that the city worked closely with AHS for several years to mitigate the effects of LRT construction near the ARC.
“Substantial time and effort went into mitigating AHS’s concerns, and to ensure that AHS could continue to provide safe and effective service at the ARC during construction and operation of the Valley Line West,” she said in an emailed statement.
O’Brien said changes that AHS asked for were incorporated into the Valley Line West design, but AHS later told the city that it had decided to relocate the facility.
Bland says AHS is working to determine the centre’s permanent location. Johnson said he hopes it is located downtown, where most social services are.
The George Spady Society on 105A Avenue also offers medical detox in the inner city.
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