Dave Smith’s Wild Wild West raises $65K for new Ottawa youth residential treatment centre

Planned facility will better meet growing demands for help of drug-addicted youth

It was cowboy hats’ off to Dave Smith, the legendary community builder behind the construction of a brand new residential treatment facility for youth.

Some 220 attendees, clad in plaid and blue jeans, were rounded up Thursday for the 4th Annual Wild Wild West benefit. Together, the room full of supporters and sponsors grossed $65,000 at the $125-a-ticket event.

The western-themed evening, mixed with a shot of Steampunk style, returned to the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park. There, everyone feasted on chicken and ribs barbecued by Steph the Grilling Gourmet. Somebody from the Bradford Construction table donated $1,000 in exchange for first dibs at the buffet-style food.

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The crowd rose to its feet with applause as Smith, who’s now in his mid-80s, took to the stage to formally welcome everyone, after being introduced by emcee Sarah Freemark from CTV Ottawa Morning Live.

The local restaurateur has been trying to lasso his dream of building a single 30-bed, co-ed facility in the city’s west end that will provide life-saving treatment and programs to youth facing addictions and mental health issues. Workers have been busy preparing the land for development, as part of the first phase of the $11.8-million project. 

If all goes well, the construction phase could begin this fall.

Twenty-five years have passed since Smith helped to bring the first addiction treatment centre for youth to Ottawa, in the form of a day program. Further progress was made with the opening of two separate addiction treatment centres for girls and boys, with a combined 24 beds. The facilities provide three month’ residential treatment, with follow-up care and support for families. The latest project aims to bring the two locations, plus a third administrative and outreach facility, all under one roof. 

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“We’ve turned so many lives around, you can’t believe it; it’s absolutely incredible,” said Smith on stage. “When they graduate, it’s so emotional to see the kid, from when we first saw them to three months later. You wouldn’t believe it’s the same person.”

He expressed his appreciation over whatever amount of money the crowd felt it was able to donate that night.

“What you give today we didn’t have yesterday.”

The Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre is consistently dealing with a waiting list of youth who need its help. The non-profit agency expects that the purpose-built facility will better meet the growing demands for treatment in the region. It’s working with Ottawa architect Lesley Watson, managing partner of Watson MacEwen Teramura Architects.

The centre is still looking to raise $4.5 million, and is hoping for more government funding. It previously received $1.5 million from the province with help from Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Bob Chiarelli, who attended the fundraiser in Liberal-red plaid. 

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“We’ve got some money to raise but we’re as far as we’ve ever been,” DSYTC executive director Mike Beauchesne told OBJ.social. “We’re wrapping up Phase One. It will be done very soon.”

The evening got a helping hand from staff and management with CIBC. It also featured a silent and live auction, and stories shared by DSYTC families. As well, there was juggling, stilt walking and other entertainment provided by Orbital Talent. 

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— caroline@obj.ca

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