Pubdate: Sun, 26 Jun 2005
Source: Kelowna Capital News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005, West Partners Publishing Ltd.
Author: John Zeger


Open letter to Mayor Walter Gray and council:

The Iridian Youth Detox Centre is scheduled to close on June 30 when 
its federal funding expires. The Iridian Centre has been playing a 
vital role in our community in providing detox services to young 
people, particularly women who want to stop using crack, crystal meth 
and other street drugs. If this centre is forced to close, many young 
women will likely be lured into prostitution in order to finance 
their drug habit thereby exacerbating the existing crime problem in Kelowna.

The Iridian Centre has been operating for 22 months during which time 
it has treated 155 people with an 80 per cent success rate. It is the 
only centre of its kind in the Okanagan with a four bed transition 
suite staffed by a resident counsellor, psychiatric nurse and a team leader.

Operated by the Okanagan Family Society, a non-profit group, the 
centre has scheduled meetings with the province in early July at 
which time they feel that the required funding will be provided, 
according to Dennis Dandeneau, executive director. However, they 
urgently need funding to keep the centre open until such time.

Being closed for even a short period would mean their services would 
not be available to those who need it and could also result in a loss of staff.

Citizens for Responsible Community Planning is requesting that city 
council provide interim funding in order to keep the centre open 
until such time as long term funding from senior levels of government 
becomes available. Such funding would amount to approximately $1,000 
per day and would probably be required for only a short period of 
time. As Kelowna city council has endorsed the Four Pillars approach 
to dealing with drug-related crime, it is important to provide 
financial assistance in order to enable the pillars of prevention and 
rehabilitation to work.

Enforcement is an important part of the Four Pillars approach, but 
relying solely on enforcement will not solve social problems. We 
therefore hope that this issue will appear as an item for discussion 
on the city council agenda for the meeting of Monday, June 27, as 
this is the last date that council can address the matter before the 
centre is scheduled to close.

John Zeger

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