Saik’uz First Nation Coun. Jasmine Thomas and Chief Priscilla Mueller speak about the need for addiction treatment facility near Vanderhoof, March 2021. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)

Saik’uz First Nation Coun. Jasmine Thomas and Chief Priscilla Mueller speak about the need for addiction treatment facility near Vanderhoof, March 2021. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)

Remote B.C. addiction treatment centre tries again with ministry support

Agriculture minister insists she is not interfering in land commission

A proposed 60-bed addiction treatment facility on a remote lake near Vanderhoof is getting a second hearing, with a letter of support from B.C.’s deputy agriculture minister after pleas about the deadly impact of opioid drugs on the local Indigenous community.

Carrier Sekani Family Services proposes to buy and convert a fishing lodge on Tatchick Lake to a culturally sensitive healing retreat, replacing 40-year-old lakeshore cabins with a retreat and parking area using a small portion of the land that has never been used for farming. After the Agricultural Land Commission rejected the non-farm use application in February, Carrier Sekani leaders spoke out about the need.

“People are dying every day because of the opioid crisis, and in our community we’ve have three or four deaths over the last year and we desperately need this facility to happen,” Saik’uz First Nation Chief Priscilla Meuller said in March.

B.C. Liberal MLA Mike de Jong questioned Agriculture Minister Lana Popham at length last week about the ministry’s efforts to see the project through. He submitted an April 12 letter from the deputy agriculture minister to Carrier Sekani Family Services, indicating support for the project.

RELATED: Addiction treatment facility proposed at Tatchick Lake

RELATED: Treatment facility rejected because it’s on agricultural land

RELATED: Parksville council wants ‘dry housing’ on farmland

Popham said she was not told the letter was being sent, and cited cabinet confidentiality about another ministry letter to Mueller, indicating that a cabinet order was being prepared to overrule the land commission. “We were pursuing options, looking at what could be done, and information was being prepared for consideration,” Popham told the B.C. legislature June 3.

The Carrier Sekani agency has applied again, with the deputy minister’s letter included in a package sent to the regional district government, which is now required to present applications under the NDP government’s changes that prevent farmers from applying directly. Popham rejected de Jong’s argument that the ministry’s actions were interfering.

“He insinuated that there has been interference in the application around the Carrier-Sekani, and I would like to state on the record that I categorically disagree,” Popham said. “There has been no interference.”

Popham’s overhaul of the land commission and non-farm uses has led to controversies over restrictions on secondary homes on farmland, operation of a farm-to-table restaurant and an Abbotsford farmhouse converted to an addiction recovery house for women, which was allowed to continue after the operating society was told to move because it is a non-farm use.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Agricultural Land ReserveBC politics

Just Posted

Pam Bottomley (executive director), right and Sandy Hurley (president) of the Parksville Downtown Business Association visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Downtown Parksville gears up for post-pandemic bounce back

Podcast: Hurley, Bottomley chat about what’s ahead for the PDBA

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

(File photo)
Crime report: Crooks busy pilfering bikes throughout Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Thefts among 295 complaints Oceanside RCMP deal with in one-week period

The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue logo on the back of a service vehicle. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville and Qualicum Beach provide letters of support for Arrowsmith Search and Rescue

ASAR asks for increase in funding, one-time capital grant and for RDN to buy out current facility

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

A still image from security camera video recorded June 8 shows an individual lighting trash on fire in the doorway of 19+ Cannabis Store on Victoria Crescent. RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue are investigating numerous fires set in downtown Nanaimo in the past three months. (Photo submitted)
‘It’s out of control’: More than 20 fires set in downtown Nanaimo in past 3 months

Authorities asking business owners to keep dumpsters locked

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Most Read