City needs to take first steps towards resolving this issue

OF the 16 recommendations from the coroner’s jury report into the September 2013 death of Alyssa George, the most important is the one addressed to the City of Terrace, the Northern Health Authority, the First Nations Health Authority and the provincial health ministry calling for them to investigate the establishment of a “proper medically staffed substance abuse/detox centre” here.

George, 25, was arrested on outstanding warrants and placed in RCMP cells here only to be found in such a state of medical distress later she was flown to a Vancouver hospital where she subsequently died.

Coroners or their juries establish facts, not blame, and the simple tragic fact here is that George’s advanced state of alcohol addiction had so ravaged her body she was beginning to shut down regardless of whether she had been in a police cell or not.

Whether George would have benefited at some point in her life from a detox centre cannot be known but having a jury recommend the call to investigate the establishment of one demonstrates far-ranging thinking.

Recommendations are just that, recommendations, and a coroner’s jury has no power of enforcement.

Yet the city and the health agencies have to respond. In this case, the deadline is April 11.

There is no way a detox centre will happen overnight but a clear statement of need will be the first step toward a resolution.