Amidst calls for addiction services in Kamloops, a vocal West Victoria Street business owner is lobbying for a detox and recovery centre.
Tru Market Truck and Auto owner Reid Hamer-Jackson said street issues on West Victoria Street persist and he has suggested to city councillors a recovery centre within transit routes be established in Kamloops.
Hamer-Jackson told KTW he has identified potential property in Rayleigh. He believes an acreage would prevent the associated issues from playing out in various parts of the community and allow people space to “breathe” while getting help.
Coun. Bill Sarai said people are falling through the cracks due to a lack of detox, recovery and affordable housing in Kamloops. He supports the need for detox and recovery services, not only specifically in Rayleigh, but in any location in Kamloops. He said the Vision Quest treatment centre in Logan Lake would like to have a presence in Kamloops, but noted multiple provincial bodies need to come to the table.
Sarai said the city would likely provide raw land if other agencies and other levels of government were to take care any servicing needs and wraparound services for the people in recovery.
“But it’s a struggle of getting someone with deep pockets and a vision to make that happen,” Sarai said. “And it’s not city council. We can’t do it.”
City of Kamloops social and community development supervisor Ty Helgason said the city is not aware of plans for such a recovery centre and has not discussed it with either Interior Health or the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.
However, Helgason said there would be concern with having such a centre on property in outlying areas, due to limited access to Royal Inland Hospital and other services.
“A facility such as that might have more need for access to a hospital,” Helgason said. “Being so far away from the hospital may not be the safest option for the client. We don’t have legislation to mandate folks to go into a facility like that, so I don’t think many clients would choose to go that far out of town. There’s just a lot of factors at play that make me think that a facility out of town doesn’t make the most sense.”
Helgason said the need for detox beds and complex care in Kamloops persists. He said the city continues to see the impact of addiction on city streets. A 20-bed detox centre operates out of the Phoenix Centre, Helgason pointed out, but it is a regional service not necessarily focused on Kamloops.
In addition, the ASK Wellness-operated Maverick Inn across from Aberdeen Mall has 12 treatment beds funded through the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and an additional 15 supportive recovery beds funded through Interior Health.
“There are some programs around Kamloops, but I think the need is certainly prevalent,” Helgason said.
Tanya Tolman oversees several youth programs for Interior Community Services and said that, in addition to the need for adult addiction services, youth services are also needed. Tolman said there is no long-term treatment facility in Kamloops for youth. She said youth can attend Phoenix Centre in some circumstances, but noted lining up detox with long-term recovery is “difficult.”
“So, you might have a youth that gets a bed at detox this week, but then there might not be another bed available for another four weeks out of community,” Tolman said.
“Then you have to hope the youth stays sober in that time and then you also have to have the ability to have that youth transferred to that particular facility out of community, which can be very challenging, particularly if it’s a youth that either is in care or doesn’t have a family and natural supports or many different things.”
Tolman said she and ICS have driven youth out of the city — to the Lower Mainland, Keremeos and Kelowna — to get treatment.
Another challenge is when youth leave for treatment, they learn skills and build supports outside of Kamloops. Tolman said when they return to the city, none of those supports are here. In addition, she said it is difficult to cut off peer groups that may feed into addiction, compounding risk.
“Unfortunately, the risk to relapse is quite high,” Tolman said.
In April, Interior Health announced that 10 youth treatment beds were coming to Kamloops this spring.
The new beds are for youth living in Interior Health between the ages of 12 and 18 who have significant and complex substance use challenges and who have not been successfully supported through less-intensive treatment.
The contract has been awarded to A New Tomorrow Treatment Solutions, which is a partnership between Active Care Youth and Adult Services and Dr. Mandy Manak.
Asked if the beds will fill the need, Tolson said she doesn’t know, but that they are “long overdue.”