Pubdate: Sun, 12 Jul 2009
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Times Colonist
Author: Richard Watts, Staff Writer


An assisted-living house for women in Esquimalt recovering from
addiction is shutting down -- the victim, say its operators, of
hostile neighbours, bureaucracy and lack of services.

Tricia Law, operator of Neway Recovery House, a facility offering a
home to recovering addicts who commit to living clean and sober, told
Esquimalt council this week the house will close in September.

Law and her husband blamed hostility from neighbours, as well as
municipal restrictions on the number of clients and a lack of outreach
programs to help clients stay clean.

Neighbours had complained that Neway's operation at a duplex at
493/495 Grafton St. was inappropriate for the neighbourhood. A
municipal report suggested the operation obtain nursing-home zoning,
instead of residential. But it also said if both sides of the duplex
continued to house four people, Neway would be in full compliance.

Mayor Barb Desjardins said she was disappointed about the closure. But
Desjardins rejected Neway's charge that it was the victim of NIMBY --
not in my backyard -- attitudes. "I don't think Esquimalt is closed to
that sort of facility in the appropriate setting."

Law said, however, she has found operating in Esquimalt nearly
impossible, despite the need.

She and her husband moved to the location earlier this year from
Surrey, where they both had experience running similar homes. Finding
little in the way of sober housing for women recovering from
addictions, they decided to start one. They rented the duplex,
previously known for drug parties, and opened Neway in May.

Neway charges clients $550 for room and board. The home operates with
a curfew, and demands that tenants abstain from drugs and alcohol and
submit to urine tests. Any violation results in eviction.

Eventually, Law said, she hoped to have six people living on both
sides to make the facility viable.

While not a professional counsellor, Law said she operates as a
life-skills coach and advocate for addicts, helping them gain access
to appropriate programs. Yet she said Victoria outreach programs are
typically run on a harm-reduction basis. For example, clean needles
and crack pipes are offered to addicts regularly. But Law wants her
clients to stay away from all drugs and alcohol.

Gordon Harper, executive director of Umbrella Society, which advocates
for addicts, said there is help for addicts trying to live clean,
although he admits there are not enough treatment and outreach programs. 
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