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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Fort St. John Association for Community Living is receiving support from Northern Health to open treatment and withdrawal management beds.

According to executive director Joe Lang, the association hopes to open ten treatment beds and two withdrawal management beds to “meet a vital need” in the north.

The Fort St. John Association for Community Living is known for assisting those with developmental disabilities.

However, the association’s board of directors noticed a need in the city, and Lang said they decided to expand their services to include those with complex needs, including addiction assistance.

“We’ve been dealing with individuals who are homeless and who have addictions as part of our ongoing work for the last few years,” Lang explained.

In 2022 so far, there were 21 drug overdoses reported in Northeast B.C., two of which were in October.

Meanwhile, Northern Health is still looking for a permanent Overdose Prevention Site in the city.

Lang said the program is still in the planning stages, and once a project manager is hired, they will begin to work on the details.

He explained that the treatment program would be for youth aged 12 to 24, the same as the Foundry program announced earlier this year.

“We’ll have a lot of therapeutic programming, including art and agriculture and different life skills as well,” Lang said.

“It’s not just about treating the addiction, it’s about giving people skills to find other solutions in their life. It’ll be a multifaceted program and a multidisciplinary team.”

The association is currently looking for a building they can convert into the type of facility required.

Lang said the program will prioritize Indigenous individuals. They have been working with local corporations, such as the Fort St. John Friendship Society and the Treaty 8 Tribal Association, to ensure the intake process addresses their needs.

The funding for the program is coming from Northern Health, but Lang mentioned that sometimes the association will do fundraising for specific programs in their scope.

There is currently no timeline for the program, but more details will become available as a location is found and the proper staff is hired.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca. Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.