UPDATED- ACRD gets $800,000 for homeless, health initiatives

The ACRD received $800,000 from VIHA for homeless and health projects and will address child health issues outlined in a recent report.

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is going to begin tackling some of the issues outlined in a damning report by the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

VIHA announced in a news release Wednesday that the ACRD is receiving a one-time grant of $805,000 to help develop homelessness and healthy community initiatives.

Alberni was one of seven regional districts including Comox and Cowichan to receive the one-time grants. Alberni also received the largest endowment of all of them.

“The grants were disbursed based on a population demographic model, as well as on the availability of services and resources,” VIHA spokesperson Val Wilson said. “When we have added resources available then we can do this.”

ACRD chief operating officer Russell Dyson confirmed receiving the donation, adding that its already been divvied up: $300,000 will go to homeless initiatives and $500,000 to health projects.

The Community Health Network will coordinate health programs, Dyson said.

And the ACRD is going to approach officials from the Alberni Valley Community Stakeholders Initiative to End Homelessness about the homeless portion. “The board has expressed interest in working with them again,” Dyson said.

According to Dyson, the 2011 VIHA report, in which Port Alberni placed low in children’s health statistics was a big factor in both getting the grant and the amount received.

The report noted that Alberni’s infant mortality rate is 10.7 per 1,000 people, which is above the B.C. average of 3.4 per 1,000. As well, infant death and stillbirth rates are 120 per cent and 85 per cent higher respectively than the VIHA average.

At 29.9 per 1,000 there were more children in care in the Alberni Valley than in B.C. (4.2) or VIHA (13). There were also 18.1 cases of child abuse per 1,000, which is higher than B.C. (7) or VIHA (10.9).

ACRD director Glenn Wong only just became aware of the grant.“We can start to address the issues identified in VIHA’s report regarding youth and early years,” Wong said.

The Community Health Network is the likely vehicle to start addressing those issues. “We’ll have the resources to hire a coordinator and provide clerical support and start to address concerns,” Wong said.

In 2011, the ACRD received a $285,000 for homeless initiatives.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com