The controversial Wellness and Recovery Centre on York Road is on schedule to open in early to mid fall.
A statement from Island Health, which is setting up the centre, said the exact date of the opening of the facility is dependent on the completion of the ongoing renovations at the site at 5878 York Rd., move-in timelines and staff training.
As for the consultations with the public to discuss issues around the centre, Island Health said numerous virtual engagement sessions have been held since May with a wide range of stakeholders, including all levels of local government, Cowichan Tribes, the school system and community members.
“Community dialogue will be an ongoing process and includes the establishment of a community advisory committee with a wide range of members, including neighbours, businesses, the school system, local governments, First Nations, first responders and people with lived experience,” the statement said.
“The application process for the committee is currently underway.”
Island Health said it is aware the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged people’s mental health and worsened the ongoing toxic-drug poisoning crisis, creating increased demand for mental health and substance-use services, not only in the Cowichan Valley, but across the Island Health region and all of B.C.
“The Wellness and Recovery Centre will provide a broad range of critical lifesaving harm reduction, treatment and basic health-care services for individuals living with substance-use challenges in the Cowichan Valley,” Island Health said.
Island Health announced in April, 2020, that the centre will be set up on York Road to bring together primary care, harm reduction, case management, the overdose prevention site that is currently operating on Trunk Road, and on-site treatment in one location.
The health authority doesn’t require the permission of local governments or communities to open such facilities, but many residents and businesses in the York Road neighbourhood have been advocating for Island Health to open the centre elsewhere and have been pressing local governments to intervene.
But James Hanson, Island Health’s vice president of clinical operations for central and north Vancouver Island, said last year that after a year of searching for an appropriate site for the centre, the health authority determined that the site on York Road is the best available fit for the facility.
“Given the dual public health emergencies of the opioid crisis and COVID-19, and this location being very accessible to clients, Island Health entered into a lease agreement,” Hanson said.
“Extensive consultation involving multiple potential site options would have been optimal. However, in this case, there was only one site available.”
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I will continue to use their services