Posts Tagged "West"


Daphne Bramham: B.C. addictions minister targets province’s ‘wild, wild West’ recovery houses

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B.C. Addictions Minister Judy Darcy has no illusions about the current state of British Columbia’s recovery houses and the risk that the bad ones pose to anyone seeking safe, quality care.

Nor is she alone when she calls it “the wild, wild West.”

Anyone able to build a website and rent a house can operate a so-called recovery house. Like a game of whack-a-mole, even when inspectors try to shut down the worst ones, they spring up somewhere else.

That said, the regulations they’re supposed to enforce are so vaguely worded that it’s easier for bylaw inspectors to shut places down for garbage infractions than for failure to provide the most basic of services like food and a clean bed to people desperate for help.

Even the most deplorable ones have never been taken to court by the province, let alone fined or convicted which makes the penalties of up to $10,000 moot.

It’s taken two years, but this week Darcy — along with Health Minister Adrian Dix and Social Development Minister Shane Simpson — took the first steps toward bringing some order to the chaos and overturning years of neglect.

In two separate announcements, what they’re offering is both the stick of tighter regulations and enforcement as well as the carrot of more money for operations and training staff.

The carrots announced Friday include $4,000 grants available immediately to registered and licensed recovery home operators to offset the costs of training for staff before tougher regulations come into force on Dec. 1.

On Oct. 1, the per-diem rate paid for the treatment of people on social assistance will be raised after more than a decade without an increase. Recovery houses on the provincial registry will get a 17-per-cent increase to $35.90, while recovery houses licensed by the regional health authorities will jump to $45 from $40.

The sticks are new regulations that for the first time require things like qualified staff, which common sense should have dictated years ago as essential. Recovery houses will have to provide detailed information about what programs and services they offer. Again, this seems a no-brainer, as does requiring operators to develop personal service plans for each resident and support them as they transition out of residential care.

As for enforcement, the “incremental, remedial approach” to complaints has been scrapped and replaced with the power to take immediate action rather than waiting for a month and giving written notice to the operators.

Darcy is also among the first to admit that much, much more needs to be done to rein in bad operators whose purported treatment houses are flophouses and to provide addicts and their families with the resources they need to discern the good from the bad.

More than most, the minister knows the toll that poor funding and lack of regulation is taking both on addicts who seek help and on their loved ones. She’s haunted by meetings she’s had with the loved ones of those who have died in care and those who couldn’t get the services they needed.

“It’s the most difficult thing that I have to do and, of course, it moves me to my core,” she said in an interview following the announcement. “People say, ‘Do you ever get used to it?’ Of course I don’t. If you ever get used to it, you’re doing the wrong job.

“But I try and take that to drive me and to drive our government to do more and to move quickly and act on all fronts and having said that, there’s a lot to do. There’s really, really a lot to do.”

Among those she’s met are the two mothers of men who died within days of each other in December under deplorable conditions in two provincially registered recovery houses run by Step By Step.

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy shares a laugh with Scott Kolodychuk, operations manager of Surrey’s Trilogy House One recovery home where Friday’s news conference was held.

Mike Bell /


It was four to six hours before 22-year-old Zach Plett’s body was found after he overdosed and died. On Christmas Eve, a 35-year-old man died at a different Step by Step house. It was two days before his body was found by other residents.

Two years before those men died, the provincial registrar had received dozens of complaints and issued dozens of non-compliances orders. Both houses remained on the registry until this summer when owner/operator Debbie Johnson voluntarily closed them.

After years of relentless advocacy Susan Sanderson, executive director of Realistic Recovery Society, was happy to host the ministers’ Friday announcement at one of its houses. She wants to believe Darcy that these are just first steps since the per-diem rate is still short of the $40 she and others lobbied for and remains a small fraction of what people who aren’t on welfare are charged — charges that can run up to $350 a day.

Having taken these long overdue and much-needed initial steps, maybe Darcy and her colleagues can take another logical next step to support working people getting access recovery who — without access to employee benefit plans — can’t afford the cost of treatment.

They shouldn’t have to wait until they’re destitute to get care, any more than someone on welfare should be deprived of help.

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Security images released amid spike in residential break-ins in West Van

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Police in West Vancouver say they’re investigating a recent spike in residential break-ins.

In a statement, the force said there were 29 reported break and enters in the district between July 1 and 30, bringing the total to 108 so far this year. According to police, that’s a 65-per-cent increase compared to the five-year average.

“Officers are actively investigating these incidents and utilizing numerous resources including Forensic Investigators, our Major Investigations Team and Criminal Intelligence Officers, to identify any potential suspects,” police said. “So far, investigators have secured CCTV footage from multiple locations that shows suspects wearing hoods and gloves.”

Police also released a map showing where in the district the break-ins occurred.

Investigators said stolen items include jewelry, electronic devices, sports equipment and other types of property.

In the meantime, the WVPD is urging residents to take precautions as police investigate.

Tips include locking doors and closing windows when no one is home, ensuring your home alarm is working properly and making sure notification agreements are up to date with alarm companies.

Residents are also advised to avoid leaving easily accessible ladders on their property, making sure their home as adequate exterior lighting and letting a neighbour a neighbour know if they’re going to be away for an extended period of time.

“The people responsible for these break and enters are looking for items of high value, and seem to be targeting homes that appear unoccupied at the time,” said Const. Kevin Goodmurphy. “We want to remind our residents that if they see or hear suspicious activity, to contact us immediately.”

Anyone who can help identify the suspects seen in the video or has other information that could advance the investigation is asked to contact West Vancouver police at 604-925-7300. Tips can be left anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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Vancouver police arrest man in connection with West End assault

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Vancouver police have arrested a 34-year-old man in connection with the alleged assault of a woman in a West End apartment building on Saturday.

Just before 3 a.m., a woman reported being attacked after she was followed by an unknown man into her building on Bute Street near Pendrell Street.

Investigators said the attack was sexually motivated.

Police released security camera images of “a person of interest” on Saturday afternoon. By Sunday, they had a man in custody.

“Tips from the public were crucial in helping to identify the suspect,” VPD Sgt. Jason Doucette said in a release.

A person of interest in an assault in the West End on Nov. 17 was photographed by a security camera.

Vancouver Police Department /


The man’s name has not been released.

Doucette says the VPD are anticipating he will be charged with sexual assault and robbery.

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Vancouver police investigate West End assault

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Vancouver police are asking for the public’s help in tracking down a person of interest in a West End assault Saturday, who was photographed by a security camera.

Just before 3 a.m., a woman reported being attacked after she was followed by a man into her apartment building on Bute Street near Pendrell Street. She did not know him and it appears to be an isolated incident, but investigators believe it was sexually motivated, the police said in a news release.

A person of interest in an assault in the West End on Nov. 17 was photographed by a security camera. [PNG Merlin Archive]

Vancouver Police Department /


The man is described as white, in his 20s or 30s, with a slim build, short dark hair and dark facial stubble. He was wearing a burgundy toque, a black zip-up jacket and blue jeans. He may have been walking with a limp.

A person of interest in an assault in the West End on Nov. 17 was photographed by a security camera. [PNG Merlin Archive]

Vancouver Police Department /


Detectives ask anyone with information that could help their investigation or who recognizes the person of interest to call their tip line at 604-717-0601 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.

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Man carrying long gun forces lockdown at New West hospital

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Police are looking for a suspect who triggered a lockdown at a New Westminster hospital Tuesday after he was seen carrying a long gun.

Officers were first dispatched to the area of Royal Columbian Hospital at around 10:20 p.m. after they received reports from the nearby Sapperton Station about a man with a rifle. Investigators say they also received information that the man was trying to sell the firearm.

In a statement released Wednesday, the New Westminster Police Department confirmed the suspect had entered the hospital near the underground parking garage.

The incident prompted a large police response which included Transit Police and Mounties from Coquitlam and Surrey.

Royal Columbian was placed on lockdown and authorities set up a containment area around the scene.

“An extensive search of the hospital and surrounding parking garages was conducted to ensure the safety of staff and patients, however the male was not located,” the release read. “CCTV footage has been obtained for closer analysis.”

Now, police are asking anyone with information that could help them locate the man to come forward.

“Our investigation into this incident continues,” Sgt. Jeff Scott said. “It’s with good reason that the safe transportation of firearms is a matter we take very seriously.”

Investigators working on the case can be reached at 604-525-5411.

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