An artist’s rendering depicts the future women’s residence at Port Alberni Shelter Society’s Shelter Farm therapeutic recovery community. The PASS was recently funded for six recovery beds. (ARTWORK COURTESY PA SHELTER SOCIETY)

An artist’s rendering depicts the future women’s residence at Port Alberni Shelter Society’s Shelter Farm therapeutic recovery community. The PASS was recently funded for six recovery beds. (ARTWORK COURTESY PA SHELTER SOCIETY)

Port Alberni shelter gets $1M grant for recovery beds

Funding is first step toward vision of therapeutic recovery community: PASS

The Port Alberni Shelter Society has received funding for six addiction recovery beds. The new beds are the first step toward creation of a therapeutic recovery community in the Alberni Valley.

Fourteen organizations received funding for beds across B.C. On Vancouver Island, aside from the Port Alberni Shelter Society, Comox Valley Transition Society was funded for two beds, Edgewood Treatment Center in Nanaimo was funded for five beds and John Howard Society of Nanaimo was funded for 15 beds. All applicants were part of an adjudication process that included health authorities, service providers and people with lived and living experience.

Provincial minister of mental health and addictions Sheila Malcolmson made the announcement on Feb. 9, 2021.

Provincial minister of municipal affairs Josie Osborne—also MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim—said the shelter society’s grant was for just over $1 million.

READ: Two organizations work on therapeutic recovery programs for Port Alberni

“This is post-treatment recovery beds,” said Wes Hewitt, executive director of the Port Alberni Shelter Society (PASS). “It’s filling in pieces in the continuum of care. We don’t have any recovery beds at this point,” he added.

The shelter society will open a recovery centre for women, hopefully by April, at its Shelter Farm. Hewitt said PASS decided to concentrate on a place for women first because “there are not any programs in Canada that are exclusively for women at this point…We’ve got to start somewhere.”

The therapeutic recovery community will give people a safe place to live post-treatment, without an end date. A vital part of the model will be skills training for members—not necessarily just farm work. “When a person is ready to ‘graduate’ or leave we want to make sure they’re not going to the same place that created their issues in the first place,” he said.

“You keep opening doors for individuals, they can find the right employment and the right future.”

Of the more than 100 beds that have been funded in the province by this grant initiative, 46 will be new spaces in existing treatment and recovery organizations. The remaining beds will be converted from private-pay beds to fully funded public ones for people who cannot afford private-pay rates and to help cut wait times for public treatment. Funding was allocated in two streams to residential treatment services and supportive recovery services and will be administered through the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The additional beds will increase access to addictions treatment and recovery bed-based services in every health authority by bringing beds into the public system and will help to address long-standing service gaps for Indigenous peoples, women, rural and remote communities, and people transitioning from corrections. Service need, including both rural and remote communities, was also prioritized.

Hewitt said the funding is based on a three-year term, which will get Port Alberni’s therapeutic recovery community up and running.

“We have a plan for sustainability,” he added.

RELATED: An Opioid Dialogue: Alberni Valley therapeutic recovery community offers long-term benefits

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