The District of Summerland approves business license despite the staff recommendation to deny it after finding charges

Business given green light

Summerland council went against the district staff’s recommendation at Monday's meeting and approved a business license that was suggested to be denied via a unanimous vote.

The business license is for a healing centre at the property located on 9719 Brown Street, to be named  “New Approach Healing Centre.” 

The District of Summerland staff advised the denial because the applicant was convicted in 2007 on charges relating to possession of stolen property and drug trafficking and didn’t expand on her expertise in relation to the proposed business. 

Jan Demers appeared before council on Monday afternoon and answered questions regarding her plans for the business.

Demers is also running Beyond 12 Steps Healing Centre in Salmon Arm, which focuses on helping people recover and receive treatment for mental health, substance, drug and alcohol abuse. The centre in Summerland has a similar objective, helping individuals heal from trauma and PTSD along with freedom from addiction. 

“We’re not here to sell drugs, get unsavoury people sitting outside and causing a ruckus,” Demers said. “These are people that want to get treatment want to get better and want to have a life.” 

“When somebody wants help they want it now, not next week, next month.”

Staff concerns over her past charges were one of the main reasons for their recommendation to deny the license. 

“I own my stuff that I’ve done, I’m not proud of it but I’m pretty proud of the shoes I’m standing in today,” she said in response. 

The district had pointed out in the report that Demers had not stated her expertise in relation to the services in taking care of the individuals who are at risk, nor information as to who will be providing the services and what expertise those individuals have.

“We will be offering individual counselling along with workshops regarding trauma, PTSD and addiction. We will be providing meals and housing to those in our program.”

Support staff and therapists will be coming in from Salmon Arm until the group hires on more counsellors. 

“For it to be said that I don’t have any knowledge of all this kind of work, that's very incorrect and I took that personally,” Demers said. “I’m there for the families, I answer the phones, I go and do interventions.”

Demeres also clarified that the facility will not be available for detox or court mandated recovery, when asked by Coun. Erin Carlson regarding those services. 

Councillors Marty Van Alphen and Erin Trainer were vocal in their support for the facility, having previously met with Demers and spoken to her about the centre. 

“I think that this facility fills a large gap in our community so I hope that it works out,” Trainer said. 

Van Alphen also asked staff as to whether there were any complaints regarding the business in Salmon Arm.

Anthony Haddad, the Chief Administrative Officer for Summerland confirmed that there hadn’t been any. 

Council had follow up questions regarding RCMP and bylaw involvement, length of stay for participants and program details, which Demers explained.

Van Alphen added a comment that there’s been more deaths related to addiction and opioid than COVID-19. 

“It's a pandemic of its own,” he said. “Having some public engagement process where people are curious can have engagement and enlightenment, [because] this is a problem in our society.”

“I know it’s a difficult thing to talk about, treatment and addiction… But I think it’s a good thing for our town," Carlson added.

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