Rehab centre a long haul

Colton Davies

The man in charge of the Discovery House rehab facility said more discussion with the community may have helped Michelle Jansen’s plans to start her own rehab centre in the city.

Jansen was planning to launch a centre in the name of her son, Brandon, who passed away from an accidental overdose last year.

Instead, neighbours of the property on Juniper Drive came together and bought the house, reportedly for $1.8 million dollars, negating the plan.

"We went and publicly consulted with neighbours prior to, and I think that might've been a little bit of a difference," Jerome Abraham said, executive director of Discovery House.

"In the other case, just looking from the outside, maybe the cart was a little ahead of the horse."

A formal grand opening for the Discovery House’s second rehab facility is on Friday, after the 13-bed facility opened in October.

Abraham said neighbours were informed months ahead of when the original opening date was planned.

He said most neighbours were in favour of the plan right away.

Discovery House has had a facility open on Wade Avenue for about 10 years, and Abraham noted the organization's history likely gave him a leg-up in looking to expand.

"Every single neighbour in that neighbourhood came and supported us or wrote letters of support."

He added that putting a rehab centre closer to town, like where the two Discovery House facilities are, likely would provide a better chance for clients to heal — compared to the proposed centre on Juniper Drive which is further away from the town centre.

"Our philosophy has always been to get people involved in the community, because addiction is such an isolating disease. And the stigmas behind the disease often leave people disenfranchised from the community."

The City of Penticton's zoning bylaws were overruled by provincial legislature in the case of whether or not the proposed location on Juniper Drive was a good spot for a rehab centre.

That was something that concerned residents who were involved in purchasing the home, who said the provincial legislature should include better regulations.

"Within our zoning bylaw, we don't allow this in a residential zone," Anthony Haddad said on Wednesday, the city's director of developmental services.

"However, the provincial legislation supersedes the local government regulations on this issue. So our role in this was to review the business license application."

Jansen said she still plans to open a facility very soon somewhere in the Okanagan.

Abraham said he is hopeful she succeeds.

"A lot of stuff has to be done with the right timing and the right amount of grace to get these things done I think."

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