The Fire Pit Cultural Drop-In Centre will no longer be receiving Federal funding. According to Positive Living North, they were told by the Public Health Agency of Canada that the Fire Pit is an “in-eligible” expense.
Positive Living North was receiving about $175,000 through the HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund annually to operate the Fire Pit. With that money no longer available, PLN will have to come up with alternate funding. Executive Director, Vanessa West, says “They [Public Health Agency of Canada] have now looked back on their decision, and they are going to be providing PLN with transitional dollars for one year so we can keep the Fire Pit open until 2018. We are not sure what these transitional dollars will be yet.”
West says they will seek out private and industry donations. Volunteer at the Fire Pit, Bill Baker, has some suggestions as well. “About 80-85% of the people that come in here are First Nation. With the cut backs… what I would like to see is; if the Bands can afford it, have each Band put up even $5000 a year.”
The Centre services up to 150 people a day, providing them with basic needs and street-level programing to help prevent disease transmission. “If the Fire Pit was closed, my fear is that so many of these vulnerable individuals that really need our service are going to be really just walking the streets of Prince George,” says West, “which can really place them at a higher risk for their safety.”