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Open House attracted those curious about first Chilliwack youth treatment facility

The 20-bed treatment centre for youth 13-18 from across the Fraser Health region
Githa Van Velze and Brody Van Velze chat with Steven Esau from PCRS at the Open House. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Those attending the open house Tuesday night at the IHOP in Chilliwack sized up site plans and storyboards for the proposed youth treatment centre.

Should the rezoning be approved next week at city hall, it could become the first residential recovery facility of its kind in the region to treat youth with addictions from across Fraser Health.

Council gave the rezoning bylaw first reading, from CS2 Tourist Commercial to R9 Supportive Housing, and a public hearing will be held July 17 at city hall for the property – currently an empty lot – at 45456 Yale Road.

Brody Van Velze’s mom, Githa Van Velze was moved after attending the open house and seeing the plans for the centre to treat 13 to 18-year-olds.

“Was such an incredible evening,” she said. “We were so happy to have been a part of it.

“As a mom of a recovered addict who is living an amazing clean life, I am feeling very inspired and excited about all the great things to come. This is something not only our young adults need, but families as well. Such great news.”

The youth treatment centre could be in place by early 2020 – a joint project of BC Housing, Fraser Health and Pacific Community Resources Society. The fully-fenced centre will have fitness facilities, room for crafts, family therapy, a healing garden and more.

Ingrid Kastens, executive director of Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS) called the proposed facility “a perfect fit” for PCRS, which will operate the facility.

“Chilliwack has been a great community to do this in for three reasons: One is the city has been really supportive over the 20 years that we’ve been doing addictions work in Chilliwack.

“The second reason is the wonderful outdoors, which we plan to use in our therapeutic approach, and then stating the obvious is it’s a little more affordable since Chilliwack real estate is a little more affordable.”

The site on Yale Road adjacent the Travelodge, was purchased by BC Housing for $1.7 million.

It is estimated the specialized treatment centre, using a team approach, will have 20 to 22 staff in different shifts to cover 24/7 staffing requirements.

“Right now we are sending youth outside of the region to access this kind of treatment so it’s nice to have something closer to home. It’s a real bonus for the region,” said Stan Kuperis, of Fraser Health.

James Squire, with IHOP Restaurant, was talking to a BC Housing official about security measures like lighting and fencing for the new facility. The topic of City of Chilliwack’s Good Neighbour Agreements came up, and a tailor-made agreement for this project is underway to be signed later.

“So my main thing is making sure that if this a program that is going to come through, that we are protected in a way that makes us successful as well as them being successful,” said Squire.

“If a facility like this is going in right next door, on our end, we need to know what to expect. Right now anyone can walk back there.”

Aziz Mohammad, general manager of the Travelodge Hotel, said their concerns are also around fencing, building materials and lighting, and have to do with the building aesthetics for their customers.

Fred Petersen was outside the IHOP holding a sign that read, “No rezoning.”

“This is the wrong location,” Petersen said “Children will look out and see people doing drugs, cars screaming by, ambulances and police cars. It’s the correct idea, but the wrong location.”

Travelodge general manager Aziz Mohammad, IHOP general manager James Squire and BC Housing’s Melvin Lee at the open house Tuesday night discussing a proposed youth treatment facility that could go in next door. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)
Site plan for the proposed youth treatment facility to be built in Chilliwack next to the Travelodge/IHOP. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)
Rezoning is July 17 at city hall for proposed treatment facility to be built in Chilliwack for Fraser Valley youth with substance abuse issues (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)
Story board on the proposed treatment facility to be built in Chilliwack for Fraser Valley youth with substance abuse issues. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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