Interior Health has announced it has closed Nelson’s Friendship Clubhouse which provided social support to individuals suffering with addiction.
The announcement comes two weeks after the health authority stated they are temporarily pausing plans to create a safe inhalation site on the same property the Clubhouse is on at 818 Vernon Street.
Lannon De Best, executive director of clinical operations with Interior Health, says there are currently no plans to re-open the site in the future, but the same services will continue to be available at 333 Victoria Street.
“The Clubhouse services have been provided for many, many years,” says De Best. “They’re therapeutic services that support psychosocial rehabilitation of those who have mental health or addictions diagnosis and we wish to continue those. The important thing for us is that we continue them in an environment that allows us to provide the services maximally.”
De Best said the decision to relocate the Clubhouse services was influenced by a variety of factors.
“The decision was made to relocate services to our Victoria Street facility in order to address concerns that were identified by members of the community about how the property was being managed and to stress the importance and seriousness that we take in ensuring that we are being good neighbors.”
Some community members and business owners have been vocal about their concerns surrounding the clubhouse and the province’s plans to provide inhalation overdose prevention services at the Clubhouse located on 818 Vernon Street.
De Best also said the decision was made when the health authority was informed of incidents that demonstrated the Clubhouse’s property was being misused.
“There was an incident in May where we had reasons to relocate the services in an effort to ensure that those services weren’t disrupted by the activities that were happening on the property and around the property.”
Community concerns about safety, criminal activity around the clubhouse, and lack of security have been brought forward to both the city and the province, urging Interior Health to consider finding a new site for both the Clubhouse and safe inhalation site outside of Nelson’s downtown core.
In a media release Interior Health responded to some of the concerns.
“In our efforts to start new life-saving health services and support individuals with complex mental health and substance use challenges in Nelson, we understand that we did not address community concerns with the Clubhouse property prior to expanding additional services,” they said. “Moving forward, we are committed to more frequent and two-way communication about health services – existing and planned.”
Interior Health also stated that they have enforced 24/7 security at the clubhouse site and plan to build a fence around it to ensure there is no inappropriate use of the property.
“These issues are complex and require government agencies and community partners to work closely together to find solutions. Interior Health will focus on our mandate, which is to deliver health services to everyone in our community, while working with partners who are focused on addressing criminality, housing, and community supports for vulnerable populations.”