Choices Transitional Shelter resident John Goddard chats with Anna Kebaien in a common area inside one of the buildings at the facility in View Royal. The former youth correctional centre is being touted by Our Place Society as an ideal place for a permanent recovery centre.

Therapeutic recovery community pitched for Choices in View Royal

Our Place envisions residential facility to provide lasting rehabilitation at the West Shore facility

Breaking the cycle of addiction, homelessness and incarceration for vulnerable citizens of the Capital Region is one of the goals of a proposed therapeutic recovery community at the former youth corrections centre in View Royal.

The facility, unlike anything currently available on the south Island, would target people who have multiple barriers to recovery, said Don Evans, executive director for the Our Place Society.

“These are people who are dealing with poverty and homelessness, and mental health and addictions; people who have suffered from trauma and abuse,” he said. “They really need something more than the traditional short-term treatment centres that are available.”

The community would see 40 to 50 people living in the existing residential facilities at 94 Talcott Rd., currently being used by B.C. Housing and operator Our Place for the Choices transitional shelter. Evans described the proposal as a “safe, highly structured program” in which everything would be “focused on their healing and their transitioning through to recovery.”

Residents of the community, some of whom could be placed there under court-ordered conditions or as part of their probation, would stay from 14 to 24 months and be encouraged to engage in the variety of activities available on site. Those could range from personal and spiritual counselling and group meetings to vocational classes, exercise facilities and opportunities to grow food.

“We’re working closely with the courts so that the courts will have an alternative to jail,” Evans said, “so instead of sending people that are homeless to jail, they’ll send them to recovery.” Current estimates are that 60 per cent of the people in jail are homeless, he added.

With an eventual 20 to 30 people annually “graduating” from the program, the idea would be to work with employers to have jobs ready for them upon leaving the facility, and immediate placement in a supervised, second-stage “sober house” with other alumni. After that, final placement into permanent housing would complete the transition.

An advisory group giving guidance to Our Place on the development and content of such a program includes individuals from the corrections, probation, law enforcement, medical and recovery communities on Vancouver Island.

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.

Evans’ presentation to View Royal council came on the same night council members forwarded B.C. Housing’s application for another year-long temporary use permit for Choices to public hearing next Tuesday (April 4, see accompanying story).

Our Place has targeted 94 Talcott Rd. for the new proposal, given its location away from the triggers of the downtown, its existing setup as a residential facility, its close access to 12-step meetings and medical services, and various on-site amenities.

While no major alterations or renovations would be required, what is needed is a rezoning to allow such a facility to operate on the premises. Our Place Society is already working with B.C. Housing to prepare for that, and has also been teaming up on the extension of the temporary use permit.

After the presentation, Coun. Ron Mattson asked Evans about the desired time frame for the changeover. Should the extension be approved, Evans said, B.C. Housing would move toward permanent placement of current residents of Choices by the end of 2017, with potential availability of the facility by early 2018.

Coun John Rogers, who spent 35 years working in the B.C. Corrections branch, noted there has long been a gap locally for this type of program. He said it could work well as a way to get people with court-ordered conditional sentences into a better place, and applauded the inclusion of experienced people on the advisory committee.

Aware of the need to not put the cart before the horse, Mayor David Screech said, “It’s important to remember that this is a long-term vision for the property and the short term is dealing with the temporary use permit.”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

West Shore residents hold forum to voice frustration with Goldstream Park homeless camp

Some 200 residents fill local pub pointing fingers, claiming crime on the rise, safety at risk

City stamps rezoning approval for Merridale Cidery expansion in Victoria

Owner expects doors open by fall 2019 in Dockside Green neighbourhood

North Island Tour De Rock rider Benjamin Leah leads team to Port Hardy

“You don’t have issues and problems when you look at these kids and how much they’re going through.”

Two to hospital after University of Victoria sailing mishap

Wind gusts capsize boat of recreational club sailors

Victoria’s deaf community advocates for different sign languages to be recognized on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

United Way asks Victoria to share local love

2018 campaign aims to raise another $5M

5 things to do this weekend in and around Greater Victoria

Sooke Apple Fest returns, Saanich lights up with lantern festival and anarchists unite for downtown book fair

Whitecaps see playoff dreams fade after 2-1 loss to FC Dallas

Goal in 87th minute seals Vancouver’s fate

B.C. students send books to displaced students of Hornby Island school fire

Maple Ridge elementary school teacher says students learned about acts of kindness

Trump drains oxygen from Trudeau foreign policy with PM, Freeland bound for UN

A lot has changed since the Liberals came to power in Canada in 2015

Emergency crews investigate small sulphuric acid spill in Kootenays

IRM states a small volume of less than one cup and three dime-sized drips were leaked from carrier

Victoria resident barred from trading securities for fraud

Larry Keith Davis used money from an investor to pay personal bills

Most Read