The new Our Place therapeutic recovery community has opened in View Royal.
The recovery centre is designed to help men, who are trying to overcome homelessness, addiction or have experience with incarceration, by providing life skills training to integrate back into the community. Participants will live on site for up to two years with the goal of them having a job and a place to live by the time they leave.
Minister of Mental Health and Addiction Judy Darcy said they used a model from Italy – the San Patrignano Therapeutic Community – which reports a 72 per cent recovery rate for those who complete the program.
“It’s a powerful example of a community saying, ‘Yes, yes in my backyard,’” Darcy said. “A community that took the time and then took action to help bring this therapeutic community to life.”
View Royal Mayor David Screech said there were concerns raised by residents as to what would be done with the facility after the youth detention centre, formerly in the space, closed in 2014 and Choices and transitional housing left. But the community has shown “overwhelming support” for the centre over the past year.
“It was clear that both residents and council alike saw the incredible need for a facility of this type in our region,” Screech said. “And on that basis our council was pleased to support the rezoning that allowed this centre to open.”
Ryan L’hirondelle, graduate from the Guthrie House Therapeutic Community in Nanaimo is now a support worker at the recovery centre in View Royal.
He was part of a pilot project at Guthrie in connection with Vancouver Island University (VIU), which allows residents who reach a certain level in the program to pursue outside education unescorted with day passes.
In 2011, L’hirondelle attended VIU to start his degree and has just completed it.
“When I left the Guthrie House I had everything established in community, I had a home, I had a routine, I was already attending school, I had motivation and I had a lot riding on it for the guys behind me that were coming next,” L’hirondelle said.
Don Evans, executive director of Our Place, said the facility provides opportunities for patients to get involved in activities that could lead to a career path, including the use of a kitchen, arts and craft room and a gym.
The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions provided $4.7 million in funding. B.C. Housing provided a $310,000 grant for renovations and $1 per year lease with no property taxes for three years.