The Province of B.C. has thrown its support behind the transformation of the former Choices Transitional Shelter in View Royal into a therapeutic recovery community.
On Monday, the province announced it will provide $4.7 million in funding to Our Place Society for the recovery-based program at 94 Talcott Rd., that will be delivered in a structured environment.
“Our government is working to provide a full spectrum of connected and holistic mental health and addiction supports to help all British Columbians live happier, more fulfilling lives,” said Judy Darcy, minister of mental health and addictions.
“I am so proud to support this innovative, therapeutic recovery community, which will help people living with addiction develop the skills they need to thrive in our community.”
As part of the program, residents would come to the peer-led program through the court system or following a detox program, and would stay at the facility for a two-year period, where they would focus on sobriety and recovering from their addictions.
There will be no drug and alcohol use allowed on the property and individuals will not be free to come and go as they wish.
In the end, the hope is that every individual who graduates from the program will be in control of their addiction, have a place to live, a job and the life skills necessary to live in the wider community.
The format is patterned after the San Patrignano youth recovery community in Italy, where more than 1,300 residents are learning valuable life lessons and gaining personal and leadership skills to allow them to move forward positively in their lives.
“We are grateful to the Government of B.C. for supporting this life-changing program,” said Don Evans, executive director of Our Place. “This is an opportunity to not only transform the lives of individuals, but to also transform our community.”
The community will begin accepting male clients in 2019 to 2020 for 12 to 24 months at a time.
The municipality of View Royal however, hasn’t yet signed off on the deal.
View Royal Mayor David Screech said the bylaw still requires first and second reading, as well as a public hearing. Considering the way the Choices Transitional Shelter was “thrust” upon his municipality, he said he was disappointed with the way the province handled the announcement.
Screech said he would have appreciated a heads up, something he did not receive from the province.
“I have been very supportive of Our Place and I still am,” he explained. “I think the funding is wonderful. But, it’s all about public process when we are dealing with a neighbourhood – and we could have done a better job with that.”
The facility, also supported by BC Housing – to the tune of $300,000 in funding – is expected to start renovations as early as this summer, in order to open in the fall. Our Place will lease the property from BC Housing, who will also cover the property taxes for up to three years.
Screech said the announcement “trumped” community consultation for the community of View Royal and they have yet to approve zoning.
“When the minister gets up and says that this is happening, I think it is hard for a local resident to think that their voice and their concerns, are going to have a lot of merit,” Screech said.
“I wish this announcement had been delayed until View Royal council had formally approved.”