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Minister announces Foundry youth services coming to the Sunshine Coast

A new centre will offer free services — like drop-in counselling, medical care, youth and family peer support and social services — for youth 12 to 24. But, a location is needed.

The Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Sheila Malcolmson, was in West Sechelt Friday to announce new — and free — youth services coming to the Sunshine Coast. 

In front of a gathering of around 50 people at the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden’s pavilion, Malcolmson said a Foundry clinic will be opened on the Coast in partnership with Sunshine Coast Community Services (SCCS).

Fourteen Foundry centres are operating in B.C. and eight more are in development. The Sunshine Coast location is to be the 23rd Foundry community location in the province. 

“Foundry Sunshine Coast will be a beacon for young people where they can get confidential, free support designed for them and by them,” Malcolmson said. “Here, young people ages 12 to 24 and their families can get free mental health and substance use services, primary and sexual health care, youth and family peer support. Here you will find a sense of community — a real sense of belonging.”

While the location of Foundry Sunshine Coast has yet to be determined, once open, it will offer services to people 12 to 24 years old, as well as their families. Drop-in counselling, medical care, youth and family peer support and social services will be available at one site. 

The provincial government is providing annual funding for operations, as well as one-time funding of $1 million to start up the local service, Malcolmson said: $200,000 in the first year, $500,000 in the second, and $800,000 in the third and so on. Foundry BC has partnerships, and community donations can also contribute.

“Today's announcement is one piece of that system of care that we are working to build where there just was not one place five years ago,” Malcolmson said of the provincial government’s commitment to providing healthcare access. “Foundry is going to be life changing for many young people. It'll help them get the supports that they need.”

When asked the timeline for opening Foundry locally, Malcolmson instead made a call out to the community — and landlords in particular — to help find a location and get in contact with SCCS. In the meantime, Foundry services can be accessed from anywhere via an app, phone or at With the app, same-day and next-day counselling appointments are available. 

Malcolmson acknowledged in her speech how difficult the last few years have been, including the “confirmations of unmarked graves at former so-called residential schools,” extreme weather events — like the current drought — and how they have compounded, affecting mental health. 

Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons served as an emcee at the event. A former social worker himself, Simons spoke highly of SCCS and its executive director, Catherine Leach. 

When she was invited to speak at the Oct. 21 announcement, Leach said, “This is a big day for us. We have collectively achieved an important milestone for this community.” She added they have been advocating to provide services to youth living on the Sunshine Coast for years, and began to work toward a Foundry centre four years ago. 

She highlighted the collaborative effort, and said, “Today it's Foundry, tomorrow it could be water. It could be poverty reduction. The model of how we've come together makes a huge difference. Sunshine Coast Community Services is honored to be the lead agency. We will work hard alongside youth and families, alongside our partners and alongside Foundry staff to open the doors of Sunshine Coast Foundry as soon as we possibly can.” 

She and Simons both gave thanks to one advocate by name: grandmother Marilyn Baines. Baines shared that she moved to the Sunshine Coast 17 years ago and became a co-parent of her grandchildren. It was not the retirement she pictured for herself, Baines said, but over the years she began navigating and advocating for support services for youth. She identified the challenges of service gaps, due to the spread out Coast communities and dependence on ferry transportation to mainland services, then the pandemic and toxic drug supply crises. She called Foundry a “huge asset” in providing timely wraparound care, prevention and treatment opportunities “on this side of the water.”

Amanda Amaral, the chair of the Sunshine Coast School District No. 46 school board, shared that many students are open to using supports, but they report not knowing where to seek support outside of schools. With the creation of a local Foundry, she said staff are excited to be able to support students outside of school, by strengthening and extending collaboration. The Foundry Centre will be “more than a building,” she said.