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

Woody’s RV World hosts a grand opening for its brand-new Abbotsford location on Saturday. (YouTube)
Woody’s RV World hosts Abbotsford grand opening on Saturday

First-ever B.C. location for successful RV chain, located on Marshall Road

Gary Abbott performs a traditional hoop dance, National Aboriginal Peoples Day in Chilliwack, 2016. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Indigenous Peoples’ Day brings a virtual celebration of culture on June 21

Event to showcase Métis dancing, traditional Stólō songs, dancing, pow wows and storytelling

A t-shirt designed by Coast Salish artist Bonny Graham (B. Wyse) includes the phrase ‘every child matters’ in a custom font inspired by Coast Salish design.
Chilliwack FC works with Stó:lō Nation Chiefs Council on t-shirt fundraiser

The youth soccer organization will sell custom-designed orange shirts, donating proceeds to the SNCC

Wilma’s Transition House Charity Golf Tournament takes place Aug. 21, 2021.
Buzz building for 2021 Wilma’s Transition House Charity Golf Tournament

The key fundraiser for the non-profit will be held Aug. 21 at the Cultus Lake Golf Course

Special weather statement issued for Fraser Valley as first summer heat arrives June 20, 2021, and set to persist all week. (Photo by James Day on Unsplash)
Second day of hot temperatures rippling across Fraser Valley

Communities from Abbotsford to Hope will see daytime high maximum temps of 32 degrees

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 following an assault. (File photo)
Trial underway in February 2020 death of White Rock senior

Ross Banner charged with manslaughter following Five Corners altercation

Most Read