FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Despite some opposition from the local business community, Northern Health will move ahead with a health services centre at 10067 – 100 Avenue in Fort St. John.
In a May 29, 2023, letter to the District of Hudson’s Hope, Northern Health Chief Operating Officer Angela De Smit outlined plans for the location and consultation done so far.
“We will continue to engage with the community and the neighbouring establishments as we begin offering services,” wrote De Smit.
Services to be offered include life skills support, healthcare and treatment referrals, mental health and addictions support, Overdose Prevent Services (OPS), and primary health services.
“A unique aspect of this upcoming engagement process is that it is designed to be in place beyond the start-up of the project and will continue for a period during full operation as an open conduit for dialogue,” writes De Smit.
RNs, LPNs, life skills workers, and peer advocates are expected to staff the centre, noted De Smit in the letter, noting two open houses have been held to consult with neighbouring businesses.
Northern Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jong Kim, says those positions will be primarily staffed by existing teams, with additional recruitment expected.
“There are quite a bit of teams that we are relocating. They’re already providing those services, but we are kind of providing the space for the team to be relocated and have a better interaction and connection with the client,” said Kim.
An additional meeting was held on May 30 in partnership with the FSJ Chamber of Commerce to create a neighbourhood working group to hear and address the concerns of local businesses and community stakeholders.
Kim says the site will also serve to replace the mobile overdose prevention van, which was destroyed by fire last October in an act of vandalism.
A five-year lease for the location has already been signed by Northern Health, with an opening date planned for the fall and winter – it’s yet to be determined exactly when the facility will be operating.
Northern Health says the next community meeting is scheduled for June 27 and will be by invitation with local businesses and stakeholders.
Read De Smit’s full letter below.
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative.