A drug and alcohol treatment centre proposed for a Hammond neighbourhood got the go-ahead from Maple Ridge council Tuesday, along with an appeal to the builder to ensure the new building fits the heritage character that is important to residents.
A residential property will be the site of the treatment centre, built at 20581 and 20591 Maple Cr., and the latter land already has an institutional zoning and recovery house. The Innervisions Recovery Society is partnering with B.C. Housing in a 41-bed project, and partial funding has been supplied by the federal government through the Homelessness Partnering Strategy. It will be built in two phases. Innervisions already operates Hannah House at the corner of Laity Street and Dewdney Trunk Road, which is a treatment centre with a 60-day drug and alcohol recovery program.
Coun. Corisa Bell opposed the centre, based on concerns from Hammond residents who said at a public hearing that the institution would not fit with the heritage character of the neighbourhood.
She asked development services manager Chuck Goddard what new heritage details had been added to the building, to address concerns that the new institution would not fit in with the neighbourhood. He listed several cosmetic changes which included numerous wooden features including gables, shingles, trellis, columns at the front entrance, and a picket fence.
Bell said council should commit to revitalizing the area with a neighbourhood plan.
“It really makes me uncomfortable that we would allow a rezoning change without a vibrant plan for the neighbourhood,” said Bell.
Coun. Al Hogarth noted that there is “passion on both sides” of the issue. He said council will do a neighbourhood plan, but there is no timeline, and in the meantime “life does go on.”
Hogarth said he knows Innervisions founder Billy Weselowski personally, called him “an absolutely phenomenal guy,” and issued a challenge.
“I would like them to set the tone for future development in Hammond,” said Hogarth, and acknowledged it was “more of a plea, at this point.”
He said the institution is “the right thing for the community at large.”
“I think the service is needed,” said Coun. Cheryl Ashlie, adding she has a similar facility in her neighbourhood, and the people there have been good neighbours.
“I fully support this proposal. I don’t have any concerns,” said Coun. Judy Dueck, and added that although council has acknowledged the need for a community plan in Hammond, it has never said there would be no development there until the plan was completed.
Bell wanted to nail council down on a timeline for the plan.
“Where is it on the priority list? When is it going to happen? When are we going to keep our word,” she asked.
Council included a covenant on the property that it would allow the rezoning for a “private hospital” use, with the intention that if Innervisions vacates the premises at some future date, a new owner would be back before council with its new plans for the building.