What was expected to be a heated public hearing this afternoon will likely have a little less bite as the operator of a supportive recovery centre in Penticton has reportedly abandoned its effort to open a similar facility in Osoyoos.
After receiving complaints the Brandon Jansen Memorial Recovery Centre Inc. was illegally operating a recovery centre on a Harbour Key property for patients recovering from drug addiction, the Town of Osoyoos initiated a “first-level enforcement action, which included letters to parties who are deemed by the Town to be party to the alleged illegal actions,” Town CAO Barry Romanko told Council at the start of its regular meeting this afternoon.
“[A] response has been received by the Town to the letters. Information was shared with the Town that the Brandon Jansen Foundation is not operating a supportive recovery centre . . . and has subsequently decided to abandon their efforts to establish a supportive recovery facility in Osoyoos.”
A Brandon Jansen spokesperson said the house was not being used as a recovery centre but was actually a private residence.
“I was living in the house,” said Nicholas Jansen, the company’s programming director. “But I’ll be moving out now.”
He added the company was engaged in a process with the Town of Osoyoos to open a facility but that process was taking too long to complete.
The hearing scheduled for 4 p.m. is not directly related to the supportive recovery centre but would have provided residents an opportunity to comment on zoning amendment “housekeeping” that would have added a definition of supportive recovery to the town’s zoning bylaw and set out criteria for changing residential zoning to allow such facilities.
The hearing is also scheduled to hear comment on a proposed prohibition of residents living in recreational vehicles on single-family residential lots and establishing a minimum spacing standard between pads in recreational vehicle parks and campgrounds.
But emails and letters received by the Town as part of the process suggest observers weren’t buying the housekeeping as the reason for the Special Meeting.
“It appears that the Director of Planning is trying to slip two contentious issues through by labeling them ‘Housekeeping amendments’ to the zoning bylaw,” reads one email.
“This tactic appears to be in anticipation of an OCP review which would attract a lot more attention and publicity and it would be harder to get approval with the added public scrutiny.”
Added a second writer: “While the Report speaks to the fact that no application for an SRH has been received, it is apparent that the intent of the document is to position Osoyoos to effectively respond to any future requests to establish a SRH within Osoyoos.”
The Town received 16 emails and letters related to the zoning changes, almost all expressing displeasure with the supportive recovery centre language. Council and staff were expecting a substantial turnout at the special meeting.
On its website, the Brandon Jansen Memorial Recovery Centre says it “provides guidance, support and care for people affected by addiction with recovery programs” and “provides change, and a fully individualized approach to treatment. The programming is based on healthy thinking with nutrition and healthy living with the mind, body, and soul at the center of our program.”
It currently operates a similar facility in Penticton, that effort also plagued by a lack of community support. The facility was opened on a second site after plans to open the six-bed facility at a first location were thwarted by neighbours who bought the property.
The company was reportedly operating the Osoyoos facility without proper municipal licensing, much to the frustration of many of the facility’s neighbours.
“This particular allegation has been very time-consuming for staff and Council and created a stressful environment for the neighbourhood and the community as whole,” said Mr. Romanko.