March 10, 2015 - 7:29 PM
PENTICTON - Rumours were swirling in Keremeos over the weekend about the sudden closure of the Portage youth rehabilitation centre last Thursday, but residents had few hard facts to go on with no official announcement from anyone involved.
The facility was quiet and empty Monday, a gate barring access to the driveway, with no one in sight.
Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer said he first heard rumours about the closure on Friday, March 6.
“I heard there was a meeting at The Crossing on Thursday and staff were told ‘it's over,’” he said. In conversations with others who worked there, Bauer said he heard Interior Health “held up the rule book” with respect to staff qualifications.
“We want answers. Portage has a program that works, and this was the only facility of its kind in the province. We want answers from Interior Health. No one talks to us.”
Bauer said he has contacted MLA Linda Larson about the closure but has not heard back from her.
The mayor said Portage residents had become a familiar sight in the village noting a number of residents at The Crossing often participated in community events. Several of them had spoken about their addiction issues to local school students.
“This type of thing hits small rural communities like ours hard. We’ve lost a major employer in the area. Now we have this huge, empty facility - everyone supported Portage’s locating here seven years ago - if (Interior Health) couldn’t live with it, why did they go along with it in the first place?
Keremeos resident Marty Menzies said he’d heard “small town rumours” hinting of Portage’s imminent closure about a month ago. He received a phone call last Thursday from a neighbour who told him layoffs had occurred and the institution had closed.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015