Hands up if you’ve heard this one: a GNWT department advances a plan for significant development without consulting neighbours who would be affected.

A chorus of them told Yellowknifer earlier this week that the Department of Health and Social Services had gone so far as to issue a procurement document related to a $6-million wellness centre to be built on 51 Street. True Value Hardware owner Klaus Schoenne claims he was so shocked by the move he put his business up for sale.

“I don’t know what benefit it is for any business” or the tourism hub planned for the Centre Square Mall, he said.

He’s presumably one of the 10 or so people he said have signed a petition against the construction of a recovery centre at 5019-51 St.

Eric Binion, presumably, is not. The owner of Barren Ground Coffee expressed support for hosting the facility in the neighbourhood.

“We are pleased that it will be downtown,” Binion said. “This is an important service that is needed.”

“Service” in the singular in this instance is innocently misleading; the new centre proposes to offer a more permanent home for a range of services currently hosted at the day shelter and sobering centre administered by the NWT Disabilities Council on behalf of the Health department opposite our own 50 Street headquarters (NNSL Media wasn’t consulted, either).

This would be a welcome expansion in that sector and in exactly the right location. Still, a heads-up would have been wise. Any consultation planned for the future, as Schoenne warns, could be a waste if the location has already been settled upon.

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