AUPE meets with High Prairie council about youth treatment centre

Chris Clegg
For the Lakeside Leader

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees’ president Sandra Azocar appeared before High Prairie town council April 26 asking for support to reopen the Campus Based Treatment Centre (known locally at the former Youth Assessment Centre) in High Prairie.

But who knew what and when is a question being asked by many.

“I can say that we have already put out … and lobbied already a little bit, but certainly I can think looking at doing some more … working with the minister and our MLA. See what we can have happen there,” Mayor Brian Panasiuk told the Azocar, who was accompanied by several AUPE members.

At stake are two critical issues: about 30 full time jobs pumping well over $1 million into the local economy plus the treatment for at-risk youth.

Meanwhile, some, if not all councillors, were left in the dark as to what was going on. Panasiuk received an email March 21 from a source informing him what was happening. Most councillors are now saying they did not receive the email or were not part of any response from council to the Alberta government, which operates the centre.

“I did not know about the email sent to the mayor in relation to YAC,” Councillor Donna Deynaka wrote to South Peace News after the meeting. “The public delegation was also the first time I was made aware of the uncertain future of the facility.”

On April 25, after councillors began disclosing they didn’t know about the March 21 email, South Peace News requested Panasiuk to forward a copy of the email if he sent it to the rest of council. Panasiuk has not responded.

However, Panasiuk responded in another email after the April 23 meeting on efforts to reopen the centre.

“The town council fully supports the Youth Assessment Centre’s staying open, as it is an important resource for at-risk youth in our region and is a major employer in our town. The town’s concerns about the YAC staying open have been communicated to our MLA and the town will continue to lobby for the centre to reopen while the facility is being assessed.”

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