LETTER: Detox centre idea worrying

Re: “From furniture to philanthropy,” The Leader, Nov. 4.

The Newton area residents make up a diverse neighbourhood who deserve to be heard.

We have legitimate concerns about the location of Mr. Volken’s 72-unit facility, the lack of research literature about the program, the lack of public consultation and the impact on our neighbourhood.

Mr. Volken currently runs a 20-bed facility in Seattle.

In our Newton neighbourhood he proposes a 108-bed facility for men and one-half to two-thirds of the clients will be offenders and the remainder addicts who have gone through detox.

It was stated at the public open house that Mr. Volken has plans to purchase adjacent properties with a view to eventually expand to 300 beds within seven to 10 years.

The retail store, already in operation, will double in size.

At the Oct. 30 public open house, Mr. Volken could not provide any documentation about the success rates of his current facility in Seattle.

There was no information on the impact his existing 20-bed facility has on the surrounding neighbourhood, businesses, local residents or other tenants in the area.

In 2001 Mr. Volken attempted to establish a similar facility for youth in Vancouver.

The city staff prepared a report that raised many concerns regarding the size and scale of his proposed facility, the number of clients, operating cost, etc.

The report stated, “Staff information and experience indicate that small facilities for people with difficult problems are more successful than larger ones…”

The City of Vancouver’s social planning department and the John Volken Society prepared a study in 2002. According to this study, “…drop-out rates are high.

In most cases 50 per cent within the first 30 days… one-third of those who ‘graduate’ will relapse to drug use…”

At the public open house, Mr. Volken could not tell us what the aftercare services are for the clients who complete the program or what becomes of the participants who do not complete his program.

He was unable to give answers as to the planned number of staff, how many professional and/or trained staff, or the client/staff ratio.

While the goals of Mr. Volken are laudable, the proposal itself raises many questions regarding the operation and success for the program as well as the location and effect on an already overburdened Newton neighbourhood.

C. Hogan


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