A former south-end convent on Baycrest Avenue is being touted as a controversial new location for Ottawa's overnight youth drug treatment centre.

The original site in Carp was deemed too large and costly to run, hence the conditional offer on the convent, despite concern that the urban location could hamper efforts to help young addicts.

"The Baycrest location is in the middle of a very high-density residential neighbourhood. It's close to schools. It's close to bus stops," said Howard Williamson, chairman of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre, which was supposed to operate the facility.

"It's also in an area that's known with a lot of drug activity. For a child trying to beat an addiction, that's a toxic environment."

A drug counseling program, Serenity Renewal for Families, has been operating out of the former convent for 26 years. Manager Richard Provost disagree that the area is toxic, but acknowledges that live-in treatment would be difficult.

A final decision will be made in October on whether to proceed with using the site near Heron and Walkley roads.

"We can move virtually immediately with some renovations and actually the most important advantage is that we can begin treating young people who are addicted, who are on the waiting list now for treatment in the very near future," said Michael Allen of United Way Centraide Ottawa, which was tasked with choosing the sites.

Last year the United Way launched a $6-million capital campaign to raise money to buy and retrofit two facilities which will house the new treatment centres.

Premier Dalton McGuinty also announced $5.5 million in funding for two new eastern Ontario treatment centres last year.

The funding will be used to operate two new facilities which will house a total of 20 beds for young people between the ages of 13 and 17. The initiative will also create supportive housing and drug prevention programs in Ottawa schools.

Currently, drug-addicted youth in the region have to travel to treatment centres in Thunder Bay, Ont. or the United States to get residential treatment for substance abuse.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Norman Fetterley