Alano Club front deck under siege in downtown Chilliwack

People are using the front deck after dark to do drugs, turn tricks, break things and steal power. Club members want something done.

Chilliwack Alano Club members Dean Johnson and Vince Hohn on the front deck which has been taken over after dark by addicts and drug dealers. The problem is that members rely on it being a sober

Chilliwack Alano Club members Dean Johnson and Vince Hohn on the front deck which has been taken over after dark by addicts and drug dealers. The problem is that members rely on it being a sober

The Chilliwack Alano Club is like an oasis of sobriety in the middle of a swamp of downtown addiction.

That’s why club members are finding it hard to acknowledge what’s been going on lately.

People are using the Alano Club deck overnight to do drugs, turn tricks, break things and steal power.

It’s been creating unsafe and disturbing conditions for the Alano Club members, and they are plain fed up.

A group of Alano Club members and board directors, who together have about 100 years of sobriety in, contacted The Progress to go public.

“We’re hoping that bringing this problem to light and to the public’s attention will change things,” said Dean Johnson, a club member.

It’s important for them to be able to protect the place, located on Victoria Avenue.

“The problem is that after dark the street people, the addicts and drug dealers have taken up residence on our deck, and we can’t get them to stay off.”

It’s been unsettling, galling even, for staff or club members who arrive in the morning to find cigarette butts on the benches, used condoms, and IV drug needles left in the grass.

They’ve had flood lights stolen, wiring damaged, and lattice kicked in. They’ve found evidence of people cooking hard drugs in broken light bulbs.

They’ve put up no trespassing signs but they can’t seem to get anywhere.

They’ve had issues before, but this year it’s the worse it’s ever been.

“We have small children coming in with their parents so the used needles are a hazard,” said club member Vince Hohn. “Also having people constantly using here can be a trigger for some people.”

It has to stop.

They are requesting more patrols and enforcement, as solutions to stop the abuse of the non-profit group’s facility. It doesn’t help that the not-for-profit society is stretched to the max, with decreased membership. It only costs members $5 a month.

The members rely on it being a sober safe haven, and a family-oriented space.

“It’s really sad,” said Don Lehn, a club member and director at large of the Alano Club Society. “We’re trying to raise awareness about what we do. The upside is Chilliwack has a good reputation for helping its own community.”

Security has increasingly become an issue over the past two years.

They’ve been told off and sworn at by people camped out on their benches, and have had to run the gauntlet of dealers offering drugs.

It’s shaping up to be a bad summer, and they suspect there’s a crack shack nearby that’s exacerbating the problem.

The purpose of the Alano Club of Chilliwack Society allows members and their guests to socialize in an atmosphere of sobriety. There’s a kitchen serving up home style food, and the members hand out meeting information for AA and other 12-step programs, and organize social events for members.

See more or contact them on their Facebook page, Chilliwack Alano-Club, at 46035 Victoria, 604-792-9099.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/chwkjourno

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