By Cindy Filipenko
The Mt. Currie Band and the Village of Pemberton have agreed to establish an ongoing Joint Winds of Change Steering Committee.
This committee will ensure the ongoing implementation of the Winds of Change: A Healing Vision document’s recommendations. The document, created in reaction to drug and alcohol concerns stemming from the 2002 alcohol-related beating death of 15-year-old Ross Leo, contains various strategies for reducing the impact of drugs and alcohol in both communities.
Four participants of the original committee will be continuing their work. VOP Councillor Jennie Helmer and Chief Administrative Officer, Lori Pilon, will represent the village. Representation from Mt. Currie will come from councilors Bruce Edmonds and Alphonse Wallace. Wallace will be replacing former administrator Sheldon Tetreault.
Tetreault, who left his position last summer to work with the newly formed First Nations Governance Organization, has been nominated as a community at large member of the committee. By including community members, organizers hope to broaden the bi-governmental committee.
Helmer, one of the returning committee members, is excited about the possibilities that expanding the committee brings.
“The original document is a big document to try to implement,” she points out. “It needs constant energy and constant attention. We need to involve as many people as possible. There are so many facets to it. We want to keep things going. The goal is to keep it alive.”
In working with Mt. Currie she has seen glimmers of the community that her grandparents would talk about — a single community where people from both towns socialized and worked together.
“I’ve enjoyed the challenge of (The Winds of Change),” said Helmer. “I’ve loved working with Mt. Currie,”
One of the goals of the Winds of Change is to establish treatment facilities within the affected communities. The VOP approved a motion at its Nov. 21 meeting to undertake a feasibility study for a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centre in the Pemberton Valley. The study will be funded by a $35,000 Union of BC Municipalities grant.
Mayor Jordan Sturdy asked that the scope of the study’s mandate be broadened to examine various options. His request stemmed from a ministerial meeting in Victoria during last month’s UBCM conference.
“The impression I got from the minister is that he doesn’t think treatment within a community is as effective as treatment outside a community,” said Sturdy.
The mayor voiced his concern that the study could be undertaken, a decision to pursue creating a treatment facility made and then the whole effort stalled at the funding level.
“I’d like to broaden it to think about ideas such as a dry out facility as opposed to the jail cell,” said Sturdy, alluding to the only option for intoxicated people.
Pilon gave her assurance that the study would examine all possibilities for assisting with the area’s drug and alcohol problems.
While acknowledging the importance of the study, the mayor said that the VOP would continue to investigate sources of funding to move forward other recommendations contained within the Winds of Change, including pursuing money for the Mt. Currie-Pemberton Friendship Trail.
Sturdy noted that when it comes to UBCM funding, Pemberton is the most successful community within the Sea to Sky corridor.