Cheslatta Carrier Nation chief Corinna Leween speaks to the annual B.C. Natural Resources Forum, Jan. 27, 2021. Leween is president of Carrier Sekani Family Services, a delegated agency of the B.C. government serving northern B.C. communities. (B.C. Natural Resources Forum)

Cheslatta Carrier Nation chief Corinna Leween speaks to the annual B.C. Natural Resources Forum, Jan. 27, 2021. Leween is president of Carrier Sekani Family Services, a delegated agency of the B.C. government serving northern B.C. communities. (B.C. Natural Resources Forum)

B.C. addiction treatment centre rejected because it’s on ‘agricultural’ land

Remote fishing lodge on Tachick Lake has never been farmed

The B.C. NDP government’s rigid farmland regulations have blocked a proposal by a northern Indigenous community to open a 60-bed culturally appropriate addiction treatment centre.

Carrier Sekani Family Services has offered to buy a remote fishing resort on Tachick Lake near Vanderhoof in July 2020, to fulfill its goal of creating a lakeside healing and treatment facility. Cheslatta Carrier Nation elected chief Corrina Leween, president of the regional tribal council’s family service agency, blasted the decision in a letter to Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, Indigenous Relations Minister Murray Rankin and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson that was taken up by the opposition in the B.C. legislature this week.

Leween noted that the lakeside property has been used for a fishing lodge since the 1950s, and the remote land has never been farmed. The proposed healing centre has the support of the First Nations Health Authority and Indigenous Services Canada, the federal agency responsible for reserves. Tachick Lake Resort continues to take bookings for this year as the pending sale is considered.

“The decision fails to uphold your government’s commitments to address the opioid crisis on an urgent basis, to close the systemic gaps in medical and health services for First Nations people in the north, to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, and to honour the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Leween wrote.

It’s not the first time Popham’s crackdown on non-farm uses in B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve has disrupted a treatment facility. In 2019, the Agricultural Land Commission informed the Abbotsford Women’s Centre that it has two years to move, because the large residence used to house up to 10 women in an intensive substance abuse rehab program is also on farmland.

Malcolmson said Monday she met with Leween March 9 to confirm the province will fund such a treatment facility, but the ALC is an independent body with a mandate to protect viable farmland.

RELATED: Farmland rules force women’s treatment centre to move

RELATED: B.C. cuts fees, not red tape for farm home construction

“This is not an NDP government decision,” Malcolmson told the B.C. legislature March 15. “I’m working with my counterparts in cabinet. I’ve given my commitment to Chief Corrina Leween that we will pursue this further. Our investment in Carrier Sekani Family Services remains. We are reliant on them as a deliverer of services right now all across B.C.’s northwest.”

Ellis Ross, the former Haisla Nation chief and now the B.C. Liberal MLA for Skeena, said Leween’s letter makes it clear she isn’t interested in the many departments of government doing more consultation. He noted that the record deaths from the opioid overdose crisis is affecting Indigenous people more than the general population.

“She wants to see the talking end,” Ross said. “She wants to see ministers stop referring to their briefing sheets. She wants to see the talk of reconciliation have some real meaning in a time of crisis.”

Premier John Horgan offered to meet with B.C. Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond, MLA for Prince George-Valemount, about the issue.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Agricultural Land ReserveBC politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police are looking for the driver of this truck after it nearly hit a group of kids in Esquimalt on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Police)
Victoria police looking for driver of truck that nearly missed kids before crashing in Esquimalt

The truck’s driver, a man, fled the scene after the truck crashed into a house’s fence

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Lookout Lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

A driver stopped by Saanich police following a road rage incident on April 15 was found to be impaired, in violation of a license restriction and in a damaged vehicle. They received a 90-day driving prohibition and a 30-day vehicle impound. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Driver stopped on Pat Bay Highway after road rage reports fails breathalyzer test: police

Several witnesses reported driver to Saanich police, school officer intercepted

Police escorts for Victoria bylaw workers entering encampments in parks will continue for this month, after council approved a $25,000 budget request from VicPD. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria bylaw staff encampment work to include police escort through April

Taxpayers to see modest increase in property taxes for 2021

Victoria’s bylaw restricting businesses from providing most plastic checkout bags came into effect on April 15. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
Victoria’s bylaw banning plastic bags back in effect

The bylaw restricts businesses from providing most plastic checkout bags, charges for alternatives

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The District of Sooke will continue to flower with Communities in Bloom. (Pixabay)
Sooke will bud but not bloom in provincial competition

Council scales back participation in Communities in Bloom

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Officers surround building as homeowner held in apartment for nearly four hours by adult son

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Bulldogs forward Stephen Castagna flips the puck into the Clippers zone during a game on Oct. 24. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Island BCHL game postponed due to ‘potential positive’ COVID-19 test

Nanaimo Clippers team suspends activities, players isolating pending further test results

Most Read