Phase 2 – Okanagan Youth Recovery House
Our approach to recovery care is to create the conditions for young people to re-establish
relationships and connections with themselves, with their families, with peers, with community,
with life, and with nature.
The physical space that surrounds the youth in our care has the potential to create
opportunities for connection in a safe and immediate way. It’s not just a building. It becomes
part of the program. The design and the location of the building can help us to achieve positive
health outcomes for young people, and for their families.
We are proud of what we’ve been able to do with the property on Laurier. It does though have its
limitations. It is not in a natural environment; there is no place for outdoor play or land
based learning. It’s not large enough for the number of young people we anticipate will need the
service. It doesn’t have ceremonial space for – in particular – our indigenous residents. We
will not be able to bring in families to support them in situ. And of course the practical
limitations of not knowing if the lease will be extended year over year, or what it will cost
when it is renewed.
A purpose-built space will allow us to tailor the residents’ environment in an intentional and
deliberate way. Every aspect of the building and its surroundings will reflect and acknowledge
evidence-informed practice and the guidance of Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers to
promote healing and help set a course for long term recovery.
The proposed building design has been influenced by science and by focus groups of families,
communities, and young people we have consulted with. Attributes include:
A building in, and part of nature: Construction materials chosen will emphasize natural
materials. Rock, wood, brick, water, and iron will be pervasive elements. The property will
provide ready-access to nature, and will allow for proximate land-based learning, ecotherapy,
Indigenous practice and celebration, nature appreciation, and recreation. Windows are key
features, allowing the healing attributes of the surrounding environment to influence the home.
Dedicated spaces: In time, young people are connected with the community. At the
beginning though, they need access in-house to explore interests and opportunities in a safe and
measured way. The Okanagan Youth Recovery House Phase II will dedicate spaces to learn and
thrive. This includes: a dedicated classroom to support their education; a music/art room to
explore their creativity; indoor and outdoor spaces for physical pursuits and exercise; places
for solitude and introspection away from the other residents; and group rooms large enough to
accommodate everyone for collective learning and for ceremony and celebration.
A Home, Not an Institution: to facilitate the relational care we envision, we have
created a space that is home-like in design and flow in spite of its size. Colours,
appointments, furnishings, and design are focused on comfort and solace, and avoid any sense of
institution or hospital. Young people have their own bedrooms they can decorate as they like and
if they choose. Washrooms are shared with only one other resident. A ‘practical’ kitchen lets
them practice basic skills, and to make a cup of tea to welcome guests into the space.
A Space for Families Too: A reconnection with family is often one of the overriding
concerns of young people with a history of problematic substance use. To support families,
siblings and loved ones work toward reconciliation and to practice how to do this well, an
onsite family suite will enable supervised and supported family visits.