Last November Interior Health stated it had cleared the mental health centre’s location - shared with a shooting range - as safe. Photo credit Andrea DeMeer

Last November Interior Health stated it had cleared the mental health centre’s location - shared with a shooting range - as safe. Photo credit Andrea DeMeer

BC mental health clubhouse – paired with shooting range – shuts down in less than a week

Health authority does about-face after unrelated $628k fine from WorkSafeBC

Just four days after it opened, a clubhouse to serve people living with mental health and addiction in Princeton BC was shut down.

Kn ala Inclusion House opened July 2, but was closed July 6 by Interior Health, which cited safety concerns regarding its location.

That announcement was made Wednesday, on the heels of a WorkSafeBC judgment imposing a $628,034 fine against the health authority.

The penalty, published June 30, is linked to an incident that occurred in August 2016 when the program was named Anchorage. It was operating on a temporary basis out of the same location on Kenley Avenue.

The property is owned by the Town of Princeton. It was previously occupied by Princeton Family Services, which shared the building with the Princeton Gun Club and its shooting range.

The gun club continues to occupy half the building.

According to the WorkSafeBC website, “one worker was working with a client when a member of the public tried to enter the centre.

“After being denied entry, this person assaulted both the worker and the client. WorkSafeBC’s investigation determined that the employer had not conducted a violence prevention risk assessment, and had not developed specific violence prevention procedures that took into account the risks associated with the particular worksite.

“The employer is being penalized for failing to ensure the health and safety of its workers, and for failing to conduct an assessment of violence risks to its workers. These were both repeated and high-risk violations.”

The assault investigated by WorkSafeBC was not related to the gun club or its activities.

A press release issued Tuesday by Interior Health stated:

“Safety is a key priority for us at Interior Health,” said Danielle Cameron, mental health and substance use health services administrator for IH Central. “IH has reviewed the findings of the WorkSafeBC investigation into the 2016 incident and determined that the Kenley Avenue [building] is not suitable from a safety perspective. For that reason, we have asked the service provider to cease operations at their current building and find a new location within 90 days.”

A mainstay of Princeton mental health services, the Anchorage clubhouse closed in January 2015 after the building it occupied – also on Kenley Avenue – was sold.

Program services were offered out of the Princeton Family Services building, and then the Princeton General Hospital, while a committee of local stakeholders worked, and lobbied Interior Health, for a permanent location.

That issue seemed resolved last November when Interior Health announced it had reached an agreement with the Town of Princeton to rent the Kenley Avenue location for $1 a year.

At that time Kevin Fraser, manager of mental health and addiction services for IH, told The Spotlight: “We went through our risk management department and thoroughly reviewed the situation…We assessed the potential risks and found none.”

While the shooting range has a shared entrance with the rest of the building, it is separated by walls that are eight inches thick and a triple-locked steel door.

No weapons or ammunition are stored at the facility, and the gun club is not permitted to use the building if there is anyone else present.

In March the Lower Similkameen Community Services Society was contracted by IH to operate the Kn ala Inclusion House mental health drop-in centre at this location.

The health authority’s release also stated: “The LSCSS continues to run regular activities for clients Monday to Thursday, from 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. in the community, including coffee clubs, outings and wellness clinics. Other facility-based programming will resume once a new permanent location is secured.

The Spotlight was unable to contact representatives from Interior Health or the LSCSS, but will update this story as more information becomes available.

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