Dignataries and provincial partners gathered to celebrate the re-opening of a residential treatment program in Keremeos. Submitted photo

Residential treatment program re-opens in Keremeos

Ashnola at The Crossing will provide a new treatment program for individuals from 17 to 24 years old

A 22-bed residential treatment program in Keremeos has re-opened for B.C. youth and young adults struggling with substance use problems.

Ashnola at The Crossing will provide a new treatment program for individuals aged 17 to 24 with access to specialized, evidence-based treatment, education and support tailored to their unique needs in a natural environment. The comprehensive programming includes group, individual and family therapy, therapeutic recreational activities, life-skills training, high school completion, psycho-social education and aftercare planning and support.

“The program at Ashnola was designed to help young adults in need identify and build on their own unique strengths, resilience and personal values to help with their healing. The individualized treatment, combined with one of the most supportive environments available, provides young adults in B.C. struggling with substance-use problems with an opportunity to recover and rebuild their lives,” said Linda Larson, MLA for the Boundary-Similameen.

The Crossing was abruptly closed in 2015 when the former operator, a Quebec based non-profit called Portage, pulled out of operations. Prior to that, Interior Health raised concerns with the facility’s licensing. Issues included training of staff. Both Portage and the province cited budgetary concerns related to the closure at that time.

Related: Okanagan-Similkameen youth treatment centre halts operations

Almost a year later, the province announced the facility would re-open in early 2017.

The program was developed in consultation with regional health authority representatives, Indigenous groups, community service providers and local groups in Keremeos. It serves a unique age range of clients who are at a critical stage in their development and life path.

“Together, with our partners, we will provide a holistic and therapeutic service to youth and young adults struggling with substance use concerns from across the province. We will work from a trauma-informed and strengths-based approach to help young people on the path to recovery reach their full potential,” said Lynn Pelletier, vice-president, B.C. Mental Health and Substance Use Services.

When they are ready to return home, clients will be supported through comprehensive transition planning in collaboration with the client’s support network, including families, community services, local health authorities and the Ministry of Children and Family Development, to ensure they continue to thrive after leaving the program.

The program is supported by B.C. Mental Health & Substance Use Services, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The Provincial Health Services Authority will fund the program, which will be operated by Pacific Community Resources Society. Central City Foundation, which built and owns the facility, is providing The Crossing facilities and the 58-acre rural site to the Provincial Health Services Authority rent-free.

Access to the program is by referral through the client’s health authority. All regional health authorities have access to beds at Ashnola at The Crossing. Indigenous youth and youth from rural and remote communities are considered priority populations.

Budget 2017, with $165 million provided in targeted mental-health and substance-use investments, is helping government address gaps in the system. It is providing youth and families with better information and ways to navigate the system, and integrating and co-ordinating services throughout the province. The Ministry of Health spends about $1.45 billion each year to support people in need of mental health or substance use supports.