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Fedeli promises update on Canadore's delayed treatment centre

The Ministry of Health has not replied to questions from BayToday sent over one month ago regarding Canadore College's planned Northern Ontario Addiction Treatment Centre of Excellence, under construction at 352 Lakeshore Dr.

In an interview on June 7, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli promised to get a progress update from Canadore College on the construction timeline of its Northern Ontario Addiction Treatment Centre of Excellence at 352 Lakeshore Dr. in North Bay and its $6.84 million in public funding.

"It's a project of Canadore College. The college continues to tell us that it's well underway," said Fedeli. "As you drive by, you do see some improvements and some developments there. 

"I'll do my best to get an update now that I'm home and here in town for quite a while. I'll be able to get a better update as I begin to do a tour of all of our projects that are underway and I'll look for that update as well. I promise that I will do that."

BayToday's questions to the Ontario Ministry of Health — which oversees the addictions and mental health file — requested information about Canadore's delayed treatment centre; the revamped construction timeline; anticipated opening date; how much of the $6.84 million in government funding remains; the need to train and pay staff for two years (and counting); the selection of this style of a facility for North Bay after similar beds were removed in recent years; and, any concerns about the business arrangement and a relationship between Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo and the property owner have all gone unanswered since they were sent on May 8, more than one month ago. On May 27, a polite reminder to MOH was sent to no avail.

Several recent efforts to have Canadore College comment on the frequently quiet project site, now 28 months on from its public announcement, have also gone unfulfilled.

See related: Canadore's delayed addictions treatment centre lurches forward

In May, via its social media channels, Canadore stated, "The site of the Northern Ontario Addiction Treatment Centre of Excellence (NOATCE) has been a busy one. The contractor has received the final inspection for the floors, and it is anticipated that the drywalling process will begin once the cement has cured. The next phase, including interior walls and rooftop mechanical systems, is expected to proceed quickly. Updates will be provided, where appropriate, as the construction schedule is revised."

The logic behind the Ford government sending Tibollo to North Bay to build the 53-bed treatment Lakeshore Drive centre so soon after the closure of a similar 29-bed program has never been justified. Local health care and addiction experts have been quietly wondering why the pendulum of care that had swung in what they saw as a positive direction almost immediately swung back to a model many see as less effective.

Since 2017, various cuts and the revamping of programs saw withdrawal beds shift from the North Bay Regional Health Centre's King Street West campus to the hospital's Acute Inpatient Psychiatry Unit (AIPU) on College Drive.

Brian Rush, who earned a PhD in epidemiology and biostatics and is an expert in substance abuse treatment, clarified why services were changing in North Bay in a 2020 opinion piece. "A community-based residential treatment facility is being phased out and a host of new community programs are being phased in," he wrote.

"It is important that people are carefully matched to the level of care they need as residential treatment is resource-intensive and, further, not everyone with substance use-related challenges requires this option for a positive recovery outcome," according to Rush. "Other factors such as work responsibilities and child care also mean not everyone can participate fully in residential services. A wider range of options are required and supported by Needs-Based Planning."

Rush, who is an emeritus scientist with the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), advised a service gap had been identified by various providers involved and a consensus was reached at then-Mayor Al McDonald's roundtable.

"Through Needs-Based Planning work, we found an imbalance in North Bay, with an over-supply of community-based residential treatment, offered by both the hospital and North Bay Recovery Home and a shortage of other options, including a range of community outpatient and day/evening treatment services."

See the 2023 pilot site case study report created by CAMH for Nipissing District entitled Development of a Needs-Based Planning Model for Mental Health and Substance Use Services and Supports across Canada. The study includes references to Rush's work and includes various local stakeholders.


In February 2022, Canadore College announced North Bay would be home to a new, fully-staffed 53-bed addictions treatment centre and the school's mental health and addictions students would be trained at the facility. At the same event, Tibollo and Fedeli announced a $6.84 million contribution through the Addictions Recovery Fund "to immediately enhance access to bed-based addiction treatment supports in Nipissing."

More than two years later, the construction site on the grounds of a former car dealership is often idle with infrequent traffic. In 2022, Canadore's goal was to open by that summer, then it was pushed to early 2023. When Tibollo visited the much-delayed project site in November 2023, he acknowledged the challenges stemming from the delays and the target date was again pushed back to an "early 2024 opening date."

See related: VIDEO: Update on delayed local addiction treatment centre

In July 2022, Canadore announced Wendy Prieur as its choice to lead the facility. Prieur and her staff of five have been on the clock and receiving compensation through much of the construction delay while performing their duties behind the scenes. Prieur said in November 2023, the facility's staff would grow to 22 by opening day.

The owners of the property on which the renovations for the Northern Ontario Addiction Treatment Centre of Excellence have often been at a standstill are also involved in several real estate deals across the province, including Trout Creek Senior Living, which recently went up for sale due to property tax arrears before a last-minute reprieve.

Whispers of issues with contaminated soil due to the remnants of the car service area at the 352 Lakeshore Dr. property were flatly denied to BayToday by Michael Anobile, whose company is the property owner of record. Details of an agreement between Canadore and Berkshire Enterprises for use of the facility have not been made public but insiders have pegged the term at 25 years.

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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