Maple Ridge wants to get a grip on recovery homes

Recovery home bylaw sent to public hearing

Maple Ridge is sending its plan to regulate supportive-recovery homes to a public hearing, so residents can give their two-bits.

The bylaw proposes to allow such homes to have up to 10 residents in single family areas, providing the operators sign a housing agreement and get a business licence. Some of the conditions of such an agreement include 24-hour staffing, neighbourhood consultation and prohibition of drugs or booze.

Homes with more than 10 residents would be allowed in insitutional zones.

Currently, there are no regulations governing recovery or drug treatment homes in Maple Ridge and the city doesn’t know the exact number of such facilities within its borders.

“We really don’t know many we have in the community,” said planning director Christine Carter at council’s June 6 workshop meeting.

Small recovery homes currently don’t have to get a business licence. She suggested a monitoring program once the bylaw changes are in place, with staff reporting back to council after six months.

Mayor Nicole Read though objected to the fact that the city doesn’t know how many such homes there are, adding that some homes are “producing absolutely no results.”

Fraser Health, rather than the city, should be monitoring the homes, she added.

“I see this as 100 per cent of the provincial government’s responsibility.”

Council that Abbotsford has put a limit of 50 such homes within its borders.

But Coun. Bob Masse asked how many complaints there are about such homes. “I don’t think there have been that many.”

A proposal to put in a five-bed recovery home in Whispering Falls subdivision in east Maple Ridge is currently before council and residents there don’t like the idea.

Coun. Tyler Shymkiw though said the city instead should create special zoning for such homes and require operators to go through a rezoning process, in order to allow public input.

“We’re removing our ability to say no,” he said later.

Under the proposed bylawy, the owner of a house, along with the operator, and the city would enter into the housing agreement, registered on title. Each resident also would have to sign agreement and if there was any non-compliance, the city could terminate the agreement, explained Carter.

Provided an applicant met all the requirements, any organization could open a home, she told Coun. Kiersten Duncan.

If any group or organization met requirements, “we would have no recourse to issue a permit,” Carter said.

Coun. Craig Speirs said regulation of recovery homes is needed. “At the same time, we’ve got to make sure we don’t over-regulate. We need these in our community. The opioid crisis needs some attention. We have many people in our community who are addicted to opioids or various other kinds of drugs, alcohol, what have you.”

People with addictions come from every neighbourhood, he added. Speirs added that a new provincial government could just compel cities to accept them.

“I want to hear from the public because I think fear is the biggest problem we have in dealing with these things. And we have to overcome that. We need to get people fixed, they need help and if we can do it without disrupting neighbourhoods then I’ll be supportive,” said Coun. Gordy Robson.

Community care homes and provincially owned facilities would be exempt from the changes.

Maple Ridge News