Vanessa Riplinger, Matt Burkey, and Christa Smith of Williams Lake Foundry Project. -Photo: R Dyok, MyCaribooNow
Williams Lake City Council will be applying political pressure at the provincial level following a delegation with the Foundry Project.
Child psychiatrist Dr. Matt Burkey, Vanessa Riplinger, and Christa Smith spoke of the critical need for the one-stop shop for young people between the ages of 12 to 24 to access mental and physical healthcare as well as substance use services, social services, and supports at Tuesday’s committee of whole council meeting.
“We have a lot of good work going on in a number of organizations around town and we see this as an opportunity to bring those services together to coordinate our services better and make them more accessible to youth that need them most,” Burkey said.
The Foundry involves over 100 partnerships across BC. Its central office hosted by Providence Health Care leads the provincial initiative and supports the development of local centers.
“Often times youth are not going to go through multiple doors,” Smith said.
“So we’re looking at having that pre-intervention collective impact in a way that youth can come for any type of service and be able to get it without having to wonder where’s the right place, what’s the right agency, and then people usually if they can’t figure out right off the bat what they’re looking for they resort back to their family doctor which we know is also sometimes a barrier in people finding family doctors.”
Riplinger said they have been working on the Foundry Project since 2016.
“In my previous role at MCFD, we were under the impression that Williams Lake had been approved for the next foundry to come in,” Smith said.
“Since then it’s just fallen off the map and the understanding is that the policial pressure is being put on from other communities to have a foundry go there instead. We don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to have this funded for this community and brought in.”
Council agreed to further endorse the project by a letter of recommendation on behalf of Council to the Ministry of Health.
“Getting this service up and running is really important in doing that preventative work. It’s also going to help transition youth from out west into town and making sure that we’ve got services in place where when youth do have to come into Willimas Lake to go to school that they’re now connected with a place and with people,” Smith said.
“This is about looking at the community image and making this a non-crime capital, but a place where people really want to come and raise their kids because we’ve got services for kids and we’ve addressed some of the needs out there.”