A proposal to convert Site C workcamp facilities into drug treatment and rehab facilities will be discussed today at the PRRD.

A motion expected to be introduced by Dawson Creek mayor Darcy Dober – offers to start discussion with BC Hydro, Local First Nations, North Wind Wellness Centre, Northern Health, the First Nations Health Authority and the Province to begin.

Earlier this summer, BC Hydro hosted a Regional Community Liaison Committee Meeting and Tour on June 7. The first part of the tour consisted of a walkthrough of the main ATCO lodge and a presentation on the site’s decommissioning plans.  

The North Wind Wellness Centre (NWWC) currently serves the region, operating an Indigenous-focused 10-bed health and wellness centre in Farmington. They want to expand their program to another site in Pouce Coupe for a 60-unit facility as the first phase and eventually build an expanded facility; Addictions Recovery Community Housing (ARCH).

“Since the tour, I have spoken to the Minister of Health, the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, BC Hydro, North Wind Wellness Centre, and Northern Health and raised the idea of the possibility of moving the expanded NWWC program to the BC Hydro lands or having access to some of their decommissioned buildings,” says Dober in report to the PRRD on today’s agenda

The motion was passed by directors at their July 20 board meeting. Area C director Brad Sperling said he thinks re-purposing the soon to be decommissioned buildings is a great idea, but it needs to be clarified which parts of the camp are owned by BC Hydro and which parts belong to ATCO. 

“I think we need to expand on what we’re asking. We need to get the information, starting with who does own it and who is going to get rid of it,” said Sperling. “Because it’s a bigger question – there’s lots of items that can be used down there, in the rural areas or within the municipalities.

Sperling said rooms at the camp lodge could be a good fit for the wellness centre, in addition to other facilities of community interest such as a gym, theatre, and kitchens. 

Area B director Jordan Kealy said he’s recently toured the work camp and agreed that a conversation with ATCO is needed, noting they hosted the tour and pointed out the lifespan of the facilities. 

“Some of them are three-storey structures that don’t get moved very easily and have specific uses. If you do move them, it’s more time consuming to move them and then there’s other units that are single storey,” said Kealy. 

Director Charlie Parslow said re-purposing the camp’s facilities is a ‘golden opportunity’ not to be missed. 

“It’s an opportunity that will never present itself again. I’m very familiar with the North Wind Wellness Centre and its plans as well. And I see there’s many beneficiaries, so I think we should pursue this with zeal,” he said. 

Fort St. John Mayor Lilia Hansen noted Doig River First Nations may already have an agreement to use the site once construction wraps up, in addition to BC Hydro selling some properties at the site to a real estate company. 

“It’s my understanding that BC Hydro is already in agreement or further along in the discussion process with Doig River First Nations on that site,” she said. “The trailers will not be staying there; they will have to be moved.” 

Area E director Dan Rose said the PRRD is stepping outside of their lane with the work camp and that they don’t have staff to spare on an initiative to re-purpose the camp, and being directly involved would push the PRRD into creating a tender to manage any undertaking. 

“This is not ours. I don’t think we need to be leading the charge on it either,” said Rose, noting they could assist other parties in re-purposing the camp facilities. 

Pouce Coupe councillor Marcel Woodill agreed with consulting ATCO, and was supportive of the re-purposing concept. 

“You potentially save some money down the road and speed up some construction time,” said Woodill. https://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/fort-st-john/prrd-looking-into-repurposing-of-site-c-workcamp-7307882