Land swap opens door for downtown homeless facility

A downtown land exchange will help fill a vacant site near the fire hall and provide a home for the sobering assessment centre

A property exchange that provides a site for a downtown sobering assessment centre puts Campbell River in the forefront of service to the homeless.

“This community is way ahead of so many other communities,” said Camille Lagueux, executive director of the Campbell River Family Services Society.

A downtown land exchange will help fill a vacant site near the fire hall and provide a home for the sobering assessment centre. The City of Campbell River will exchange its property at 1241 Dogwood Street for property at 1180 Fir Street, currently owned by Discovery Chiropractic. Discovery Chiropractic will also pay the city the difference in the value of the lots (estimated at $86,000) as part of the land swap.

Upon taking possession of 1180 Fir Street, the city will enter into an agreement with the Campbell River Family Services Society to establish a sobering assessment centre at this location in the downtown area to provide enhanced treatment services for addictions and homelessness.

Discovery Chiropractic intends to re-locate its business to 1241 Dogwood once a new building has been constructed.

“We are excited to move our clinic to the new Dogwood Street location, as this allows us to expand our facilities and services, while also assisting with downtown revitalization by building a new and aesthetically-pleasing building in the downtown core,” said Dr. Richard Cronk.

“We are so grateful to the city for their overwhelming support for this project; once this sobering assessment centre is in place, it will function as a point of contact to individuals in need and function as a resource centre for the downtown core,” said Lagueux.

Paul Mason, program manager for the Campbell River Housing Resource Services (a program of Campbell River Family Services Society), also said that “the sobering/assessment centre will be unique to the North Island and will provide a service that has been identified by the partners who work with the homeless as something much needed in our community.”

City Council approved the land exchange at its Aug. 12, 2014 in-camera meeting.

Campbell River Family Services Society is a non-profit, charitable organization that has been providing services since 1977 to individuals, children and families living in the Campbell River area.

The society offers a wide range of programs and services including support, counselling, education, prevention and crisis intervention.

The sobering assessment centre will allow police called to attend an incident involving an intoxicated person to take them to the centre where the individual will be assessed.

If he or she is determined to need emergency care, they will be taken to the hospital. If not, they can be kept at the centre where they can “sleep it off.”

The service takes the pressure off the hospital emergency room while providing care for homeless people. While it has the benefit of reducing costs to taxpayers, the centre also provides a humane approach to dealing with homelessness.

“It means we’re doing the right thing,” Lagueux said. “We’re not ignoring that segment of our population.”

The only other sobering assessment centre on the Island is in Victoria. This service was identified in a needs assessment survey conducted in February in anticipation of the conclusion of the successful trial of a downtown homeless shelter involving a converted metal storage shed.

Lagueux pointed out that the sobering assessment centre is not a shelter but it fills the gap between having no service and the high barrier shelter on Evergreen Road which does not accept intoxicated individuals.

The centre will be used mostly in the evenings as a sobering assessment facility. During the day it will serve as a drop-in centre for the homeless community.