Grant McKenzie poses outside the gate of the Therapeutic Recovery Community. (Kendra Crighton/Victoria News Staff)

An inside look at Our Place’s Therapeutic Recovery Community

Amenities include a full-size kitchen, gym, weight room and eventually a healing oasis

It’s become common knowledge that Naloxone can save lives, but after reviving countless people from overdosing those that work at Our Place felt there wasn’t any hope being brought back into the community.

Saving someone’s life is different from saving them from that life. Grant McKenzie, Our Place’s director of communications, gave Black Press an inside look at the place he believes is causing ripples of change in the community.

The Therapeutic Recovery Community, just off exit 10 in View Royal, is a two-year live-in rehabilitation centre aimed at breaking the cycle of addiction, homelessness and hopelessness for men in Victoria.

READ ALSO: Our Place turns up the glamour for Beauty Day

The facility is completely sober — no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes, no coffee and even no sugar — the goal is to get the men in the program back to the point of health where they can think straight and make better choices.

“The thing with drugs, especially crystal meth and drugs like that, is they eat away at your brain and it makes it more difficult to make good rational decisions and positive life choices, and so diet plays a large part,” says McKenzie.

The centre is in the midst of renovations with the goal of de-institutionalizing the building which was formerly a youth detention centre. It’s been challenging for the construction team as the walls were built strong and thick, even removing bunk beds from the cells required a power saw.

Brightly coloured doors line the hallways of one section of the centre, with old metal bunk beds inside the cells once used to house young offenders. A fresh coat of paint was added after the centre first opened its doors in response to the tent city that popped up at the B.C. Legislature.

READ ALSO: Our Place Society opens therapeutic recovery community in View Royal

“There was a lot of people who have gone through prison — and have gone through this prison as youths — so we wanted to try and reduce the trigger,” explains McKenzie.

The TRC first opened in late 2018 and currently has 13 men in the program, with eight who have gone through the initial orientating phase, lasting 60 to 90 days — which McKenzie calls the hardest part.

“That really is getting into the mindset of what recovery means and long-term recovery,” he says.

Running on a peer-based community model with support coming from those with lived experience, Randy, one of the TRC’s support workers, graduated from a similar program in Nanaimo called the Guthrie House Therapeutic Community.

He knows first hand how impactful the community approach can be, especially when your peers start looking out for you.

READ ALSO: Our Place fundraisers gathers a record-breaking $150,000

“I know that when I went through the program, being able to see that there were guys like me who had gone through it and come out the other side, made it seem possible,” he says.

The TRC aims to have its graduates leave with a job, a place to live and a family connection — if that’s the right choice for the individual. Amenities of the community include a wood shop, an art room, a professional-grade kitchen and a gym. After the renovations are complete the community will surround an “oasis” of healing and an Indigenous sweat lodge which will be constructed in the old courtyard area.

McKenzie and Randy say the TRC is a place for individuals to find themselves and their passion while working on bettering their life.

“You find out what it is they love to do and you support that,” says Randy. “That empowers a person to really love their job.”

“We don’t want to teach people to be cooks, we want them to be chefs,” adds McKenzie, emphasizing the skills that get taught in the program.

Renovations are expected to be finished by the end of July.

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A glimpse at the new philiophy thought up by those in the program, participants say the philosphy will change but for now this one will do. (Kendra Crighton/Victoria News Staff)

A full size gym and weight room are part of the TRC for participants to use as they like. (Kendra Crighton/Victoria News Staff)

Plants, art and colour are used throughout the Therapeutic Recovery Centre as a way to de-institutionalize the facility. (Kendra Crighton/Victoria News Staff)

A professional grade kitchen is used to make healthy meals, which eventually will be the participants job as the program progresses. (Kendra Crighton/Victoria News Staff) A professional grade kitchen is used to make healthy meals, which eventually will be the participants job as the program progresses. (Kendra Crighton/Victoria News Staff)

The Therapeutic Recovery Community is currently in the midst of renovations. This photo shows where the “oasis” will eventually be. Renovations are expected to be complete by the end of July. (Kendra Crighton/Victoria News Staff)

Some of the art on display in the facility’s art room. (Kendra Crighton/Victoria News Staff)

The doors to old cells were painted bright colours as a way to de-institutionalize the facility. (Kendra Crighton/Victoria News Staff)

Some of the art on display in the facility’s art room. (Kendra Crighton/Victoria News Staff)

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