Society tackling public perceptions

John Howard Society obligated to convincing public they will be a good neighbour

Proponents of a drug and alcohol treatment facility admit they could have done more to alleviate public concerns.

The John Howard Society told Vernon city council Tuesday that communications could have been better over its plans for a residential property in the 2500 block of 43rd Avenue.

“The society recognizes the lack of support in the community is ours to turn around,” said Barb Levesque, executive director.

“It’s our obligation to convince them we will be a good neighbour.”

There are two buildings on the property and one will include a 10-bed substance abuse facility for men, while the other will provide rental suites for men who are not addicted.

Some nearby residents have stated they were not informed of the facility in an immediate fashion. They have also expressed concerns about safety and property values.

Levesque says a neighbourhood council, including nearby residents, has been formed.

The main goal of the process will be forming an agreement that commits the neighbours and John Howard Society to proper behaviour.

Coun. Juliette Cunningham says the concerns of residents could have been more likely if private interests had bought the site and rented units out.

“They (John Howard clients) must commit to a certain standard of behaviour,” she said.

“I find it a reassurance that it will  be managed well.”

Renovations are underway and the treatment facility could be ready in six to eight weeks.