Former youth jail in View Royal pitched as solution to opioid crisis

Former youth jail in View Royal pitched as solution to opioid crisis

WATCH: Our Place wants to open a therapeutic recovery community at the old youth jail in View Royal to help fight the opioid crisis. Tess van Straaten reports.

Daniel Dolfi knows what it’s like to battle addiction ? and how hard it can be to get sober.

“From the first time I decided I was sick and tired of it until I could actually overcome addiction was about 16 years so I had plenty of relapses,” says Dolfi.

After being released from prison last year, Dolfi lived at Choices, a transitional shelter at the old youth custody centre in View Royal.

“It gave me a chance to get my life on track,” says Dolfi. “I got a job and managed to secure a place to live.”

But Choices is closing at the end of December and officials are hoping the jail can be turned into a therapeutic recovery community.

Touted as a solution to the opiod crisis, it would go far beyond detox to break the cycle of addiction.

“It deals with the trauma and abuse and mental health issues, brain injury, violent behaviours ? it really gets the core of what’s feeding the addiction,” says Don Evans of Our Place.

Modeled after the San Patrignano drug rehab community in Italy, which has a 70 per cent success rate, the drug and alcohol-free facility would also teach life skills and job skills to help participants succeed once they complete the 12 to 24-month program.

“Everybody that will be leaving the program at the end will be moved into housing and jobs so there will be work opportunities or further education opportunities,” explains Evans.

The secure facility wouldn’t see people coming and going so officials say it shouldn’t affect the neighbourhood.

View Royal Council has approved the idea, in principal, pending public consultations.

“We certainly recognize it’s a much-needed facility for our region,” says View Royal mayor David Screech. “The fact that it will be alcohol and drug-free will make a big difference and I think the fact it’s a facility for people on the road to a better life and a better future will also make a big difference.”

The cost is about $1.8 million a year but Evans says that’s far less than the alternatives.

“The cost per person is much less than it would be for incarceration or for shelters or for putting people in the hospital so it’ll actually save the community money,” says Evans.

The re-zoning process would likely take about six months but if it’s successful, officials hope to open the facility next spring.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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