South Surrey’s Cole Izsak has spent the past nine years helping men struggling with addiction to get their lives back on track.
Next month – two years after fighting to keep five of his recovery sites open – he’s preparing to spread his wings further, with the opening of a women-only residential recovery centre.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a long, long time, because I recognize a real disservice that we’re doing to females,” Izsak said last Wednesday (June 30), of the facility he’s dubbed ‘Robin’s Nest.’
“There’s really very few treatment centres for women to go to. It’s widely known that there’s probably 15 supportive treatment centres for men to every one place for women.
“It’s just ethically, morally the right thing to do.”
Izsak estimates around 1,500 men have benefited from the services of his Back on Track facility, which includes the four-house ‘Fortress’ at 9889 140 St.
Since opening, he’s received daily calls from women seeking the same help, he said, but learned through trial and error seven years ago that a co-ed house “wasn’t effective.”
“There was too much drama and I couldn’t get people to focus on their recovery, so I quickly ceased that,” Izsak said.
The facility was thrown into the spotlight two years ago, when Izsak received word his business licences were to be cancelled due to an inability to obtain required provincial permits. At the time, he described the situation as a “catch-22,” as he couldn’t get municipal licensing without provincial registration, and vice versa.
Last week, he said the experience led to better support for Robin’s Nest.
“We’re that much better because we went through that, and the city is really supportive of what we’re doing because of the scrutiny.”
He leased the site for Robin’s Nest three months ago, at a cost of $6,000 per month. Last month at city hall, a bylaw to authorize a housing agreement between the City of Surrey, Izsak and property owner Younas Chaudhary was adopted, and the housing agreement was signed – just days before the province presented Izsak with a Medal of Good Citizenship, a distinction honouring those “who have gone above and beyond in their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The business licence – which had been delayed by a “little hiccup” with zoning – came through early this week, and Izsak is hoping for an Aug. 1 opening date for the six-bedroom centre. At the same, he said he’s “all too familiar with Murphy’s Law.”
“By hook or by crook though, it will be open on September 1 and we will announce an open house/grand opening party.”
Located on five of 40 acres at 4456 184 St., Robin’s Nest includes two houses – one for on-site manager Robynn Poynter, after whom Izsak named the facility – a barn, a yoga studio and a meeting room. Last Wednesday, clients from The Fortress helped put together 14 beds that were donated for the facility by The John Volken Academy.
Izsak said there will be farm animals for the women to raise and interact with, and a vegetable garden where they can reconnect with the earth, as well as supports including counselling, he said.
“I’m going to try to meet their needs as I recognize them,” he said.
“It’s going to be a great place for women to heal.”
Izsak said he has spent $25,000 furnishing the recovery centre, adding surveillance cameras and bringing it up to code, but still needs a dedicated van to transport clients to appointments. For more information or to donate, Izsak may be reached at 778-316-2625.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter