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'Absolutely terrifying': Addiction recovery centre temporarily moved to city's outskirts


A downtown Edmonton facility that offers 24-hour detox services to people with alcohol and drug addictions is temporarily moving to the outskirts of the city.

The Addiction Recovery Centre (ARC) on 103 Avenue and 107 Street will be relocated on Wednesday to Alberta Hospital Edmonton (AHE) on Fort Road and 174 Avenue, CTV News Edmonton has confirmed.

Alberta Health Services originally planned the move for last fall, but changed dates because of LRT project delays. Officials said the provincial health authority will provide a transportation team to help clients get to the new space.

"Many relocation options were explored, and it was determined that AHS will offer patients the smoothest transition and best care based on their needs," Kerry Williamson wrote in a statement.

"Patients will be offered the same quality of care, resources and safety at AHE that they experienced at ARC’s previous location."

Advocates worry the change will be bad for people needing to access treatment.

"It sounds like the perfect storm to me, and it's absolutely terrifying," Angela Staines said Tuesday.

Her son is a drug user. Staines believes the short notice and remote location could lead to tragic consequences.

"It has immensely increased his risk…the thought of him having to take an hour and a half bus ride, he might not access detox because of that," she said.


A local assistant professor shares Staines' concerns about moving ARC services away from the city centre.

"People with drug addiction are much more likely to access services when they're closer in proximity to where they live or stay," said Dr. Daniel Alati at MacEwan University.

"I think there is a good risk that by displacing those people outside of the services that they know and are comfortable accessing, that there could be a very real human cost."

The move comes amid a call to decentralize social services from Edmonton's core, including the Chinatown area on the northeast edge of downtown.

Sandy Pon, co-founder of the Chinatown Transformation Collaborative Society of Edmonton, recently counted 82 social services in that area including two supervised injection sites.

"Decentralization is a good thing because problems are at all different corners of the city, it's not just focused on the downtown core," Pon argued on Tuesday.

Pon is hopeful that spreading out agencies will help make Chinatown safer, a call that was repeated by many during the city's most recent election.

Alati said there may be some benefit to a more even distribution of services but said those efforts would have to be "carefully planned" and not be based on "not in my backyard" arguments.

"You could point to that specific question of decentralization and wonder whether the motivation really, truly is safety of the downtown core and decentralization of services or whether it's pushing people out of a space that might be viewed by some communities or some people in political power as undesirable," he explained.

AHS said Tuesday that work is underway to find a new permanent location for ARC but a spot has not yet been chosen.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Chelan Skulski Top Stories

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