Jenna Hauck/ Progress file Barb Dyck (right) assistant manager and counsellor with Spiritual Quest Wellness Society chats with one of the residents, Jayme, in this file photo from 2016.

Chilliwack drug recovery house gets tentative green light to expand

City council issues permit to allow Spiritual Quest Wellness Society to expand from six to 10 beds

Chilliwack city council approved the expansion of a supportive recovery home for women Monday night despite concerns from downtown neighbours.

And this wasn’t the first time the Spiritual Quest Wellness Society asked city hall for to expand its program in a house on the corner of Nowell Street and First Avenue from six women to up to 10.

Council did approve issuance of the temporary-use permit (TUP) after a public hearing Monday with Coun. Jason Lum opposed, an application that was deferred by council a year ago.

READ: Decision on Chilliwack recovery house expansion deferred

In August 2016, the home’s owner Justine Gillies said she herself has recovered from substance addiction and it was her dream to help other women get off drugs. But at that time, a sizable contingent of neighbours came out opposed to the plan and city council agreed it was too much too soon.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz said part of the concern a year ago was that Gillies was bringing women from Surrey to the Nowell Street address, something the owner says is no longer happening.

“To hear the application is servicing mostly people in Chilliwack is heartwarming,” she said.

“All of us had a concern that we have our own needs in the city of Chilliwack without importing more where there is not a real benefit to Chilliwack,” she added in an interview Tuesday.

A similar group of neighbours came out to Monday’s hearing to express continued concern the house is not living up to its promises of generally not disrupting the neighbhourhood, and specifically not allowing men inside.

“There are people coming and going, there are men knocking on the door,” one neighbour said. “How is that safe?”

Another neighbour, Corrine Robson, said she, too, is a recovering addict and would like to even volunteer at the recovery house but she sees nothing but “red flags” at Spirit Quest.

“I can’t even walk my dog down the alley without seeing needles,” Robson told council. “I’m in full support, but if it’s a women’s program, why are there men there?”

Other neighbours also said they have seen men knocking on the door, going in and out of the house in the middle of the night, but Gillies denied any men at the house were boyfriends or spouses of clients but rather individuals hired to do various work around the building.

“We do need men for certain things, that’s a fact,” Gillies said, to which Gaetz interrupted her with a good-natured jab.

“That is not a fact,” the mayor said.

Other issues addressed by neighbours is the criminal history of both clients and volunteers. One volunteer’s name was brought up by a critic because she was a former Canada Post carrier acquitted after trial for stealing mail.

The issue of criminal record checks, however, was a non-issue with council as it was noted many people recovering from substance use have checkered pasts. And while everyone who works at Spiritual Quest is in some stage of recovery, they will be required to get criminal record checks done.

A number of women spoke in favour of the facility, among them counsellor Barb Dyck. A woman who is a client also spoke positively saying that she was kicked out of her mother’s house for being addicted to drugs.

“Without this program I wouldn’t have hope for the future,” she said. “I wouldn’t have the true, genuine happiness I have today.”

READ: Rocky road to recovery in Chilliwack

After the input from the owner, supporters of the recovery house, and neighbours opposed, council expressed their concerns.

Coun. Chris Kloot said he was convinced “the sky is not falling” at the house, but he said he would only support the TUP as long as it was looked at again in one year.

Coun. Chuck Stam agreed that a three-year TUP was ill-advised.

“I’m not in favour of going carte blanche for three years,” Stam said.

Lum, however, was the sole vote against the permit, expressing concern over the sustainability of the organization, which is running at a monetary loss funded by Gillies.

“I don’t think we would be doing any favours adding three people to patch a funding problem,” he said.

In the end, council approved the TUP, but Gaetz ensured that not only will it be looked at in a year, the house will be monitored and the permit can be revoked at any time for violation of conditions.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Nearly 25,000 people cast ballots in Chilliwack

Turnout 10,000 votes higher than in 2014

Ken Popove pledges to work hard as the new mayor of Chilliwack

Popove to take the reins from Sharon Gaetz

Chilliwack school board results reveal clear split

Incumbents Dan Coulter, Heather Maahs and Barry Neufeld join four new board members

Popove elected mayor in Chilliwack

Gaetz second, Waddington third; new faces on city council

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Voting set to start in B.C. proportional representation referendum

Two-part ballots now being mailed to all registered voters

Man who died at BC Ferries terminal shot himself as police fired: watchdog

Officers didn’t commit any offence, says police watchdog office

Canada Post strikes leaves small shops in the lurch as holidays approach: CFIB

Rotating strikes began in Victoria, Edmonton, Halifax and Windsor

Voter turnout at 36% in B.C.’s municipal election

Vancouver saw 39% turnout, Surrey saw 33%

Harry and Meghan travel in different style on Australia tour

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on day seven of their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

AP Exclusive: Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, thesis for sale

The online auction features 22 items from Hawking, including his doctoral thesis on the origins of the universe, with the sale scheduled for 31 October and 8 November.

In Khashoggi case: Saudi calls, ‘body double’ after killing

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called the son of Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom announced early Monday, to express condolences for the death of the journalist killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by officials that allegedly included a member of the royal’s entourage.

Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur waives right to preliminary hearing

Bruce McArthur, a 67-year-old self-employed landscaper, has been ordered to stand trial on eight counts of first-degree murder.

Most Read