Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services Jason Nixon speaks during a media availability at city hall in the council chambers in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. The ministers were visiting Grande Prairie area social services organizations. (Photo by Jesse Boily)Jesse Boily

Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services Jason Nixon and Minister of Mental Health and Addiction Dan Williams visited the Grande Prairie area to tour the local social services organizations this week.

On Monday, Nixon announced $68 million to support innovative and sustainable affordable housing solutions in the province. 

“​​We want to be a significant partner in all corners of the province, including Grande Prairie, when it comes to housing,” said Nixon.

“We are working with organizations across the province that understand the unique challenges that their communities face that are building housing programs that will work for those communities,” he said.

“We come along as a Government of Alberta as a funder and as a partner to be able to make sure that we can solve those problems.”

City mayor Jackie Clayton welcomed the announcement, saying she was “optimistic to hear … there will be an additional funding opportunity.”

She said city administration is working on an application.

“We know our needs in our community are very unique, and we know they’re very diverse, and having a minister who is familiar with smaller communities and is willing to do the work, come to our region and look at what the needs are is really positive, and it’s encouraging.”

Clayton noted in conversations with the travelling ministers that there might be more opportunities for provincial funding for other housing and addictions programs, and the city is looking to explore them. 

“Our community is looking to expand, and I look forward to continue working with Minister Nixon and his ministry as we continue to put some focus on Grande Prairie,” said Grande Prairie MLA Nolan Dyck.

Nixon said housing programs should work in conjunction with addiction programs.

“I think what stood out in Grande Prairie today is how well the community works together, how much the individual organizations have come together; you don’t see that everywhere,” he said.

Williams said the province is working with the community as it looks for a location to build a $25 million 75-bed recovery centre in the Grande Prairie area. 

He said the city has made it clear to him that it’s a priority for the community, and he says it’s a priority for the province. 

“We don’t want to end up with another debacle like the Grande Prairie hospital; we’re going to get this right; we’re making sure we get the right location for it,” said Williams.

He had no further information as long as timelines for the project. 

Williams recognized the city for its efforts in recovery and housing with its Coordinated Care Campus (CCC). 

“We have tailored solutions, but all those solutions involve getting people out of the deadly disease of addiction and working on recovery in treatment centres.” 

He did note that the recovery centre will be different from the city’s CCC. 

“These are 75 beds, and they don’t all get filled at once; we’re going to get them going little by little so that there’s a sense of maturity from the cohorts moving through,” said Williams.

He said clients will be in the centre for at least one year as they work through their recovery.

Grande Prairie-Wapiti MLA Ron Wiebe said the tour made him feel fortunate to live in a community with so much support for those suffering from addictions. 

“It’s been a real eye opener for me coming from the private sector, not knowing what the extent of the addictions are,” said Wiebe. 

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Origignal Published on Jul 27, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Town & Country News   Beaverlodge, Alberta

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