Initial activities including a feasibility study are underway for a planned Detox/Health and wellness centre in northwest B.C.
The proposed treatment centre, which will be located in Terrace, was announced last year by Northern First Nations Alliance (NFNA).
The NFNA consists of representatives from the Haisla, Gitanyow, Kitselas, Kitsumkalum, Gitxaala and the four Nass Valley Nisga’a Nation villages of Gitlaxt’aamiks, Gitwinksihlkw, Laxgalts’ap and Gingolx. The project is NFNA’s first major project since it was established as a coalition in 2020.
The facility aims to address the growing need for facilities offering holistic detox and wrap-around mental health services in the northwest, said representatives from the health and wellness subcommittee of the NFNA.
NFHA health and wellness team announced the feasibility study will be conducted by Manon Joice who previous to moving to Kitimat worked as the BC Northeast Cancer Prevention Coordinator for the BC Cancer Agency. She also wrote the initial business case study for a medical clinic in the Peace Region and has a background in population health, sustainable community development and preventative medicine.
“It’s basically information gathering right now, Manon has been meeting with all the different nations and gathering information as to what each community can possibly offer,” said Arthur Renwick, Haisla Nation’s deputy chief councillor.
“She has also compiled a questionnaire that is just starting to get sent out to people that have experience in these areas,” Renwick added.
Gitxaala Elected Councillor Brenna Innes said the feasibility study is expected to be completed by October. There was also a budget of $195,000 set aside from a First Nations Health Authority grant for the study to be completed.
The feasibility study, which was to take place last year, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the departure of an administrator working on the project slowed the process further.
Other factors also played a role in the delay.
“We didn’t get the approval for the funding for the feasibility and community asset mapping until late October, that was another factor as to why there was a delay,” said Innes.
Finding someone to conduct the study was also quite difficult as the job posting was out for quite some time before Renwick attended an event hosted by Skeena MLA Ellis Ross where he met Joice.
The cost of the facility still has yet to be determined but factors such as services offered and the number of beds will play a big role in determining how much it will cost.
Renwick says the price can be better determined after the feasibility study is complete, then they will have a better picture of what services can be provided by the various First Nations involved.
Transition housing, as well as after-care, have also been considered in the development of this centre.
“We do need a transition home in each of our communities so that the person going throw detox has a safe place to go once they’ve been released,” said Renwick.
There is a site that is being considered for the wellness centre, however, it is only in the discussion phase currently and the location was not provided. However, Renwick did confirm that the location will not be in or around the Downtown area owing to safety and concerns about relapse for its residents.
-With files from Binny Paul