Fort St. John took another step toward having a local drug and alcohol recovery centre Thursday.
The board of directors, who hope to someday establish the Northern Lights Recovery Centre here in the B.C. city with the highest drug consumption per capita, held an open house to recruit new members. Presently, the nearest rehab centres are in Prince George and Grande Prairie. Around 50 people attended the open house and several were later elected to the board, including Shona Nelson, Treaty 8 Administration Director.
“I think we need a recovery centre in the community,” Nelson said. “Where I work, Treaty 8, a number of our members could benefit from having a local facility rather than having to leave home, far away. And I think there are a lot of addictions in the community and it’s positive, it’s proactive and exciting.
“You see people on the street or in the downtown core who need help, who are in the banks, hospitals. There’s got to be a place for people to go get help. Then there are those who are not on the street who are functioning, and it could affect their employment or family lives.”
Nelson said barriers to people in the community with addictions are extremely prohibitive to seeking recovery.
“There’s costs, travel, leaving your community – huge barriers to going and trying something new. It is scary, I think, for people who face addiction to have to leave their home and their support systems as well.”
She added the closest rehab centres are already overtaxed and have wait times of up to a year. A local facility would release the pressure on those systems and get Fort St. John residents on the road to recovery.
“I’m really pleased to see that in our economy so boom and bust, it’s been transient, this is the community being proactive and looking at its overall health and wellbeing for its population. Good things to come in the future.
Northern Lights Recovery Centre directorial board chairman Bruce Lantz said the next step to making the facility a reality is members to the Centre Society as possible.
“I went to Calgary and spent some time talking to major companies in the oil and gas sector and also we spent a lot of time talking to people in the communities of northeastern B.C.,” Lantz said. “Every single person we spoke to said this is absolutely needed.”
He said through Facebook and social media promotions, members and donors turned up from other cities, including one from Salmon Arm who sent $500. Floor plans and design concepts even came free of charge, those services donated by Bruce Reid, owner of WL Construction.
Lantz said the planned programs have been well-researched.
“We have travelled all over B.C. and Alberta to visit other facilities and talk to the executive directors of those facilities about what is the best kind to have, what are the best kinds of programs to have, what are the pitfalls when you start one from scratch,” he said. “We’ve learned a ton. I had a concept in my head starting out but that’s changed radically in terms f the type of programming that you want. So I think we’ve now got a good program developed, we know what kinds of services we’re going to offer people.”
The program will feature 30-day, 42-day or 62-day treatments plus aftercare for families and clients in a 24/7 facility. There will be 10 beds each for men and women in separate wings and six more for a youth wing, to be added later. Capital costs are estimated at $5 million, with operational costs of $1.2 million a year.