“The process is moving forward and I am really happy about that,” said Cheslatta Carrier Nation chief Corinna Leween. (BC Natural Resources Forum photo/Lakes District News)

“The process is moving forward and I am really happy about that,” said Cheslatta Carrier Nation chief Corinna Leween. (BC Natural Resources Forum photo/Lakes District News)

RDBN, CSFS hold public hearing for Vanderhoof’s proposed addiction treatment facility

Board to review public hearing report on April 22

A public hearing was held by the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) regarding an Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) exclusion application relating to a treatment centre proposed by Carrier-Sekani Family Services (CSFS).

“The public hearing was held to go over some of the concerns related to it and also to put forth some of the positives that the project would bring to the community. Citizens and residents in the area got a chance to speak. At the end of the meeting, the chair put forward that the application would be going forward to the ALC,” said Cheslatta Carrier Nation elected chief Corrina Leween and president of CSFS.

On Feb. 26, a proposal by the Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) to open an addiction treatment centre on the closed fishing resort on Tachick Lake near Vanderhoof was blocked by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) North panel.

READ MORE: “It’s a process, but at what cost?” says Cheslatta Carrier Nation chief

The proposed facility is a year-round residential treatment centre that will provide mental health and addiction recovery services. The facility is proposed to house up to 60 clients. The plan is to use the existing lodge and construct a 25,000 square foot main facility which will include meeting areas, counselling rooms, offices, kitchen, dining room and accommodations for residents and staff.

While the property falls on agricultural land, it has been used for a fishing lodge since the 1950s, and the remote land has never been farmed upon.

During the public hearing, there was a mixture of responses from the community. While most supported the treatment facility, there were also a few who had concerns such as property value, crime rate, etc. according to Leween.

“We tried to put their minds at ease and let them know that when people go for treatment, they are expected to stay within that treatment facility. They can’t just wander around so we tried to answer as many question as we could,” she said.

“While we generally got a favourable response, there were some questions unanswered. There were a lot of concerns on contamination of water, water levels etc. So there are processes we are undertaking right now to answer some of these concerns,” she said.

The proposed healing centre has the support of the First Nations Health Authority and Indigenous Services Canada, the federal agency responsible for reserves.

“The process is moving forward and I am really happy about that. CSFS has been relentless in this project. Its a process that we have to go through and hopefully we get the rezoning so we can then proceed with the work we have done for many years,” said Leween.

RDBN’s Director of Planning, Jason Llewellyn said in an email to Lakes District News, that the report of the public hearing will be presented to the RDBN Board at their April 22 meeting.

“The public hearing was required by the Agricultural Land Commission as part of the Exclusion Application process. The application and report of the public hearing are forwarded to the Agricultural Land Commission for consideration and a decision,” he said.

ALSO READ: Northern B.C. addiction treatment centre not off the table yet, says First Nations

ALSO READ: B.C. addiction treatment centre rejected because it’s on ‘agricultural’ land

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist


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