Rehab-site plan abandoned after reaction

The organizer of a proposed rehabilitation facility for women is heading back to the drawing board after two potential locations in Surrey have fallen through.

Annette Falconer, of The Nest Addictions Rehabilitation Society, told Peace Arch News Tuesday that feedback from the more than 60 participants of a town hall meeting in Ocean Park last Saturday confirmed that submitting a rezoning application for property in the 12600-block of 22 Avenue to increase the occupancy limit would face considerable opposition.

Without the support of the community,  Falconer said, it was likely that the rezoning application would be denied, which would result in her non-profit society losing a large chunk of its limited funds.

“We know it’s $2,000 to put an application for rezoning in and it’s $9,000-plus by the time you’re done your rezoning. So before we put that money in, we wanted to try and gain some community support,” Falconer said.

“The city suggested if you could get the community to support you, we’d probably have less of a problem with it. But if you don’t have community support, because it’s in the middle of a single-family residential area, you’re not going to get it put through.

“Being non-profit, we can’t afford to throw $9,000 away.”

The property – zoned as comprehensive development – has been used to run similar programs in previous years, Falconer said. However, with a capacity of 10 beds, it has not been successful financially.

“What it came down to was that we needed to increase the capacity to 16 from 10 for it to be financially viable, then it would be perfect. It’s gated, and all the modifications have been done so it’s all up to code,” Falconer said.

While she was disappointed, Falconer noted that she understood how the community members felt, citing previous negative experiences with other facilities at the property with no avenue for filing complaints.

She added that while there were some outbursts during the meeting, the majority of people supported the idea of the facility, just not the increase in zoning.

Previously, Falconer – who, as a recovering addict, formed the society – had been looking into another South Surrey location, which she would not disclose publicly. That location also fell through.

Despite the setbacks, Falconer said the search will continue. And at the very least, the town-hall meeting spurred conversation on the topic of addiction and alcoholism, she said.

“If nothing else, we have prompted people in that neighbourhood to have a curiosity about what an alcoholic and addict looks like and what they need,” she said. “If we can increase even the awareness of it, we’ve done something. The Nest may not be open there, but we’ve opened some eyes.”


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