Withdrawl Management BlackburnNews.com (Photo by Melanie Irwin)

UPDATE: Significant Step Forward For Long-Planned Addictions Centre

A consulting broker will be hired to advance plans for a Sarnia-Lambton addictions management facility now that the province has approved a $200,000 grant for the project.

Paula Reaume-Zimmer, Bluewater Health’s Integrated VP of Mental Health and Addictions, says a request for proposals will be going out this week.

“That individual will help guide our process, will help to identify the sites that are available in Sarnia and will help to identify the most appropriate one,” says Reaume-Zimmer. “Things have changed so we are really wanting to understand what sites are available in the community now and what’s the best fit for the services and for the community of Sarnia.”

Monday’s grant announcement is the green light for the second phase of a four-stage process to build a $10-million 24-bed withdrawal management facility.

There would be ten residential, six stabilization and eight observation beds, as well as addictions counselling and day treatment.

Mayor Mike Bradley welcomes the step forward but points out the project has been talked about for over 16 years.

“Any action that moves this project forward is welcome,” says Bradley. “There is an ongoing frustration in the community and with myself about how long this process has taken. I had the opportunity at the meeting on opiates with the Minister of Health to express that and I can say he was in agreement, that for the amount of money involved, $10-million in a multi-billion dollar budget, that no community should have to go through such a long process to get a facility everyone needs in this community who’s dealing with addiction.”

Mayor Bradley says there are very few places in the city where there is appropriate zoning for the facility.

Most recently, the withdrawal management centre was included as a possible component in a multi-faceted redevelopment plan for the old Sarnia General Hospital site.

City council is to consider that project at its meeting July 31.

-With files from Melanie Irwin