NDP blasted for ALC ruling that will force Abbotsford Women’s Centre to move

Agriculture minister cites reason for decision not mentioned in Agricultural Land Commission ruling

The provincial government was criticized in the legislature Tuesday for a ruling that is set to force the Abbotsford Women’s Centre out of their current home.

When the minister of agriculture attempted to defend her government, Lana Popham cited a cause for the ruling that is at odds with the official decision. Popham’s remarks also suggested that the home helps women fleeing domestic violence, when, in fact, it assists those seeking to overcome addiction.

Earlier this year, the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) ruled that the Abbotsford Women’s Centre can’t occupy a large house in south Abbotsford where up to 10 women live and take part in an intensive rehab program.

The house is located in the Agricultural Land Reserve, and the ALC turned down a non-farm-use application that the centre was asked to submit after several years of occupying the Winson Road property, which is owned by the Fraser Valley Gleaners.

The ALC gave the centre, which runs the Adult and Teen Challenge BC program, two years to find a new home. Teen Challenge regional director Angie Appenheimer said the organization was “very disappointed” by the decision at the time.

RELATED: ALC ruling to force Abbotsford women’s centre to move

During question period in the BC Legislature Monday, Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong asked the government to account for the forced move:

“Why, despite having operated successfully for years, are this government and this minister saying to those women: ‘You have to leave your home. You have to leave that place that is giving you support and find another place to live?’”

Popham responded, saying:

“There are 1,500 new homes for women fleeing violence, including opportunities in Abbotsford. That’s the first in 20 years. That specific situation was really about the tenants having outgrown the facility. But they have been given two years to find additional residence. I think that it’s very encouraging that the minister of housing is creating housing that would address a situation like this.”

The Abbotsford Women’s Centre and Adult and Teen Challenge BC, though, are not focused on women fleeing violence, as suggested by Popham’s answer. Instead, the program focuses on recovery from addictions.

RELATED: After 15 years of addiction and crime, Selena Friesen now a ‘star’ at treatment program

The ALC decision that requires the centre to move made no mention about the program having outgrown its current site. Instead, it simply said that the use of the house doesn’t provide a benefit for agriculture, and thus doesn’t meet the mandate of the ALC.

And Appenheimer said the fact that the centre is at capacity didn’t have a bearing on the ALC decision. She said, though, that it underscores the need for the long-term program offered by Teen Challenge.

“We’re at capacity because we have a huge need and the need is not going away.”

The ALC recently denied Teen Challenge’s appeal and request to expand its garden. The operators of the centre are hoping for a reversal of the ALC decision, while hoping the community can find the program a new home if it is forced to move.

De Jong followed his initial question by linking the closure of the centre to changes to the ALC’s mandate made by the NDP government:

“The ALC has used that mandate – that amended new mandate – to say to the Abbotsford Women’s Centre: ‘You must leave. You must close your door. You must find a different place for these women.’ They don’t want anything from government. They don’t receive government funding. They want to be left alone. They want to be left alone by this minister.”

Popham responded by saying that she wouldn’t interfere in a decision by the ALC, and noted that the previous BC Liberal government had appointed its chair and many of the commissioners.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Agriculture provided a statement that said the government was building new housing to help people access mental health and addictions care and has increase rates paid to recovery home operators.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Chilliwack Salvation Army to give away free laundry detergent and more at drive-thru event

They will be handing out Tide detergent, toothpaste and eggs to anyone who is in need

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Majority of birds saved but buildings on Castleman Road destroyed by fire

Chilliwack Fair kicks off tonight with local talent

Todd Richard and Appaloosa to hit the stage for drive-in concert at fairgrounds

PHOTOS: Moving day for 110-year-old Chilliwack heritage house

House-moving company relocated Hope River Road home to Riverside Drive

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Most Read