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This article was published 15/10/2015 (1967 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Gimli-area lodge at the epicentre of a multimillion-dollar federal funding scandal is slated to reopen this week as an unlicensed private addiction centre for well-heeled clients.
Aurora Treatment and Recovery Centre developer and owner Ian Rabb says he's lined up "world-class" addiction services for clients able to foot the $900-a-day fee at the site of the former Misty Lake Lodge near Gimli.
"I'm over the moon. I can't believe we've reached this point," Rabb said by phone prior to a scheduled media tour the Free Press declined to attend.
Rabb went on to describe the lakefront property, about an hour north of Winnipeg, as similar in services to centres such as Canada's exclusive Homewood Health Centre in Guelph, Ont., and the likes of the Betty Ford clinics in the United States.
Homewood has a stellar reputation for top-quality mental health and addictions care, and an even better reputation for discretion. For decades, it's been the "home" where Canada's rich quietly go to dry out.
Betty Ford is the leading private treatment centre for alcohol and drugs rehabilitation in the U.S.
The Gimli location, however, is unregulated and has no licence.
"There are no requirements for licences or regulation in Manitoba for drug and alcohol rehab centres," Rabb said. In fact, there are no federal regulations for the service, either, he said.
He said he'd welcome a standards system with accountable regulations, but in their absence, there's a real need for services. The centre will open Friday.
The province, meanwhile, looked into the regulation gap Rabb identified but was unable to provide a full answer Wednesday.
A spokeswoman with the health department confirmed that technically, Rabb was right.
"The province does not license private, for-profit facilities for adults," the spokeswoman said.
The public system provides the basics, she added in an email: "We do provide public services at no cost to the patient. Emergencies are dealt with as quickly as possible, and the province has invested in building facilities like the River Point Centre to provide more addictions services for those who need them."
There are more than 35 public facilities with addictions services throughout the province but long waiting lists are also common.
On top of those basic detox services and apart from licensing issues, the Aurora Centre intends to fill another gap in services -- this one for extended recovery treatment options. That costs $5,000 a month for up to 18 months instead of the daily $900 rate, which is for acute detox care.
Rabb said converting the former digs for 2011 First Nation flood evacuees into a centre for private treatment is his life's ambition.
"What we've learned over the years is the longer you can stay engaged with a client, the better chance they have at success," said Rabb, who also operates Two-Ten Recovery Inc. in Winnipeg, a registered charity with three recovery houses for clients post-detox.
The business plan Aurora will roll out begins with his own private clients -- Rabb says he does an average of 10 private interventions a month -- and a staff of 40 including a doctor on contract. Up to now, they've all gone out of province for treatment, he added.
The venture is a new chapter for a place with a pivotal role after the 2011 flood.
Hundreds of Interlake First Nation evacuees were displaced by the one-in-300-year flood, and Misty Lake was the centre of the diaspora.
Over the next two years, the lodge was the battleground in a bitter dispute between former owner Mike Bruneau and the Manitoba Association for Native Fire Fighters.
Bruneau blew the whistle on spending problems that swirled around the nearly $100 million Ottawa channelled through the agency to house and feed evacuees in Winnipeg hotels and rentals
Subsequently forced out of the evacuation business, Bruneau blamed MANFF staff for trashing his lodge in retaliation for blowing the whistle on the scandal and said he was owed millions after Ottawa paid him about $2 million.