The Town of Bashaw council turned down a business development permit application from a group wishing to use a local retreat centre as a family rehab facility for First Nations.
The decision was made at the July 8 regular meeting of council.
The business development permit application, presented in the council agenda, was signed by James Carpenter who at a previous Bashaw council meeting stated he spoke on behalf of Young Spirit Winds, a treatment program from Maskwacis.
At the previous council meeting Dr. Tony Mucciaroni, representing the Bashaw Retreat Centre located at 5340 51a Street, also spoke in favour of council approving the business development permit application.
The application included a number of other documents including a funding letter to higher levels of government.
At the previous council meeting Carpenter stated the proposed treatment program would include First Nations youth plus members of their family.
The application stated three to eight staff would be working at the centre with four to five families and a total of 30 to 40 people involved.
Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller presented the application for council to consider, and it was noted that the centre resides in a Direct Control (DC) zone, which means town council must approve zoning changes.
To approve the permit application, a zoning change would also be needed.
“Since 2017 there have been various individuals that have rented the facility for functions, leased the space to reside for various lengths of time and Maskwacis has rented the facility for retreats,” stated Fuller in her memo to council.
She also noted the centre currently has approval from town council for independent seniors living.
The CAO stated, judging by information included on the permit application, what was described appears to be, according to Bashaw’s bylaw, a “residential care facility, a private or publicly funded seniors lodge, nursing home, extended or congregate care facility.
The funding letter calls the program ‘Maskwacis Family Residential Treatment Centre.’”
The CAO further noted “residential care facility” must reside in the Institutional or Public Use zones.
In the report Fuller stated Carpenter’s application included the details, “Family rehab facility, works with young people and their families, overcoming addictions, depression.”
The application asks if there are any potential for exterior impacts (noise, smoke, fumes, dust, light pollution)? To which the applicant responded, “Occasional camp fire possibly…fire pit will not be easily visible.”
The CAO stated in her report that once councillors approve a change in a DC zone it can’t be appealed by the public to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board and that councillors should consider two points: “Do you have enough information to make a decision? Is the independent seniors living use the same or comparable to a treatment centre, where addictions may be treated?”
Fuller also stated that if council wanted public consultation before any decision, they should have the applicant facilitate it because town staff didn’t have enough information about the treatment program to do it.
During discussion Coun. Darren Pearson stated, based on the information he had, the proposed program is a treatment centre and he was not in favour of it.
Coun. Rosella Peterman stated a treatment centre doesn’t belong so close to a residential neighbourhood and also was not in favour of it.
Councillors unanimously defeated the business development permit application as presented by Carpenter and Mucciaroni.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter