In early 1960 a group of parents who had children born with a developmental disability got together to form a society that would be responsible for providing their children with an education. This was long before the School Districts took over this responsibility. However, they had tremendous support from the whole village, with representatives from the many service clubs and individual residents all volunteering. Thus the Oliver and District Association for Retarded Children was born.
The Society’s first task was to find a place to use as a school. To this end a local farmer donated a one room building which was moved to a a lot directly across from the Oliver Elementary School. They named it the “Fairview School”. It was opened in September, 1960, with four pupils and Mrs. Larsen as the first teacher.
Over the ensuing years, Fairview School grew to accommodate over twenty children.
In the early seventies the Society was approached by the B.C. Government to purchase and operate a new facility called “Kreekside Place” located four kilometers north of Oliver. When the Society took it over, the residents chose a new name for their home—”Beaver Lodge.” Back then Beaver Lodge was home to over thirty adults, some living with a mental illness and some with a developmental disability.
In November, 1984, the Society changed its name to the “Southern Okanagan Association for the Mentally Handicapped”.
In the mid-eighties, the local School District took over direct responsibility for the education of the students at Fairview School. The Society promptly sold the Fairview School to the School District for one dollar!
In February, 1985, the Society built the specially designed Park Drive home. This was developed to house former residents of the large institutions (then being closed out), to allow them to live closer to their families in small group homes.
In the late eighties a decision was made to “downsize” Beaver Lodge and use it exclusively for adults with developmental disabilities. This made it possible for each resident to have his/her own private room.
In 1995 the Society developed its first apartment building on 99th street in Oliver, followed by a second apartment building on Main Street in Osoyoos.
Also in 1995, the Society changed its name to the Southern Okanagan Association for Integrated Community Living. This was done to better reflect what the society was about rather than on the disability of the people it served.
In 2002, the Society, after much consultation, decided it was time to phase-out Beaver Lodge as it was the last small “institution” of its kind left in B.C.
In 2003 a piece of property was purchased at the corner of 350th and 101st St in Oliver that would be the site of the Society’s most ambitious apartment project so far.
In 2005, the Society closed Beaver Lodge as a residential facility. It is now used to house a Day Program and the Administration offices.
As of July 1, 2005, the responsibility of Community Living services has changed and will now fall under Community Living British Columbia (CLBC) instead of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). The focus will be on person centered planning which allows the clients to make their own choices and give input to the services they require. Communities will be asked to make inclusion part of every day life where all people will be treated as equal citizens.
SOAICL is looking forward to this most positive change.
The Membership, Board of Directors, Staff, and Associates of the Society shall enhance, empower, and support both collectively and individually, every person with special needs to achieve his or her potential and to access and enjoy the same opportunities, rights, responsibilities, and quality of life as an equal member in our community.