Non-profit asks council to support long-discussed sobering centre

Sobering centre 'fills a gap'

The non-profit society behind Kamloops detox facility The Phoenix Centre have asked city council to continue putting its support behind a sobering centre long proposed for the community.

Representatives from Day One Society — formerly known as the Kamloops Society for Alcohol and Drug Services — gave a presentation to council on Tuesday about the non-profit and the services it offers.

After the presentation, Coun. Mike O’Reilly asked what council could do to help Day One Society stay successful and grow.

Marilyn McLean, board chair, noted the past council and mayor were supportive of a sobering centre for Kamloops.

“If there's any way that this council can help along,” McLean said, adding past RCMP leadership have been supportive of the facility, and she was hopeful that hadn't changed.

"We're ready to go. It’s human, it’s community focused, it's kind, it’s helpful. That's my pitch for a sobering centre. And of course, anytime you're talking to anyone in Interior Health or anywhere about great services in Kamloops, we can always use more detox beds, more supported living and recovery programs.”

Sian Lewis, Day One Society’s executive director, told council a sobering assessment centre “fills in a gap in the continuum of service” in Kamloops.

“On our detox, for example, it's hard to keep that occupancy up, and part of it is the nature of addictions itself. In one moment I feel very compelled to come to that detox bed, and the next morning I wake up and I'm not so keen to do it,” Lewis said.

“But if we had a sobering assessment centre, not only are we redirecting people who need that health oversight while they're still sobering up, so to speak, but also when they wake up that next morning, they can come directly into detox beds.”

A sobering centre business case was sent to the B.C. Ministry of Health years ago for assessment, with no progress made on the matter despite follow up inquiries.

Last fall, Coun. Dale Bass led a meeting with provincial Minister Sheila Malcolmson, who requested the business case be updated and resubmitted to the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.

Bass, who has long supported the sobering centre business case, asked the non-profit representatives to review their vision for the sobering centre.

Lewis said the society had been part of a group with representatives from RCMP, Interior Health, and other social agencies who put together a business case for the sobering centre. Lewis noted they are going to renew that business case with updated information.

“It was via that assessment we determined that locating the sobering and assessment centre at our Phoenix Centre facility — on the lower level — would be the most cost efficient. Plus it makes sense in terms of the flow of service to support people with addictions. That's how we're envisioning it,” Lewis said.

Lewis said they understand there are some people who will be identified by police who are aggressive, violent and need to be charged, but the sobering centre would be for people “who have done nothing other than be intoxicated in public and need a safe place to stay.”

“We know people have died in cells because they didn't have the medical oversight, and nor should the RCMP be charged with that task, that doesn’t make sense. So we see it as a medically supported 12-hour stay,” Lewis said.

“We would open at seven in the evening until seven in the morning. If folks stay, they would have that opportunity to come into a detox bed if they so choose, and they will be cared for and potentially we would be saving lives.”

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