Press Release: ALC Decision

About Adult & Teen Challenge BC and the Abbotsford Women’s Center

Our organization was founded in 1958 by Pastor Dave Wilkerson in New York City.  We have grown to over 1400 centers in 125 countries.  Over 30 countries are requesting a Teen Challenge center due to its unprecedented success. Adult & Teen Challenge has the largest addiction recovery footprint in the world.  In BC, we have 3 centres.  There are 2 men’s centres (Chilliwack and Okanagan) and 1 women’s centre in Abbotsford.  We provide a one-year residential program to men and women 19+.  We address the root causes leading to addiction and believe that the whole person needs healing and restoration.  We help people become physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually well adjusted.This is done in a safe and loving environment through authentic and committed staff and volunteers.  Some aspects of the program include:  education, work skills training, volunteerism, and access to all needed services.  After graduation, our residents can transition through a 3 or 6-month program. As well, we offer an 18-month leadership training and transition program.They are given the life skills and opportunities that are needed to help them succeed.  

The Abbotsford Women’s Centre opened its doors in 2003 and houses 9 women and 1 live in support worker.  There are 2 full time staff, 3 part time staff, and many committed volunteers.  They are devoted people that want to give back and make a difference.  They are mothers, grandmothers, pastors, mentors, counsellors, life coaches, kinesiologists and much more.

How do we feel about the ALC decision? 

Upon hearing of the ALC appeal denial, we were disappointed, but not surprised.  We understand that the mandate of the ALC is to preserve farm land.  However, in our situation, their tight adherence to policies and procedures has great impact for the current and future women in our program. 

About our property

We are on a 3-acre parcel of land that is considered by the ALC to have mixed and optimal farmland.  However, on this parcel of land are buildings, asphalt, and old growth trees. A portion of our property is on the USA border, which we are unable to use.  We have asked the ALC what the farm use requirement is, and they said there is none.  As such, we proposed an expansion to our existing vegetable garden beds.  We did not want to offer a farming proposal that would exceed the physical and emotional capabilities of the women.  They have committed their time to a structured recovery program that is customized to their needs.  

What is our focus?

It’s very important to us that the focus in this situation be on the need to provide continuous care through reputable and effective addiction recovery programs that help vulnerable women.  This is more important than ever amidst our current housing, homelessness and drug addiction crisis.  We are not “fighting” the ALC.  We are putting our time and energy into saving and transforming people’s lives.  Our priority is the vulnerable women we serve. 

What are the issues arising for us out of the ALC decision?

1.     Need to search for a new facility   – Our eviction date from the property is June 4, 2021. Our options for a facility are as follows:

a)     An existing facility with similar use(mental health, large group home)

b)     A facility with different use 

c)      A new build (property and building) with potential for increased beds

d)     Since we must move, we would like to find a larger facility to meet the growing need for vulnerable women with life controlling addictions. 

e)     Since we must move, we would like to consider a facility that may be able to house children as well.  This is a tremendous need in our communities. This is an option. 

2.     New financial burden – which did not previously exist.  This could come in the form of:

a)     Cost of renovations/requirements needed to comply with Assisted Living Registry for a new facility

b)     Cost of renovations to provide same environment at different facility

c)      Cost of capital campaign for a new property and building

3.     Scarcity of housing (with proper zoning) and cost of real estate in Abbotsford

What if we don’t find a facility in time?We would pursue an interim home.  In 2013, when our center faced evacuation due to a mudslide, our community rallied and was very generous in their support to find us a viable temporary location.

What are other options?While we could request that our women be moved to another Adult & Teen Challenge location, this would require them to leave British Columbia, their communities (education, churches, work), their supports and their dreams to be anchored here. We do not see displacement as an option or a positive contribution to their continuous care and long-term success. A stable home and consistent supports prevent future relapse. 

What is the economic impact of such decisions? – While food security is the key objective of preserving farm land, there are also economic benefits to agriculture.  The ALC has approved applications for non-farm use to various economic enterprises, including animal rehabilitation.  Why not people?  The unseen economic impacts of supportive recovery homes are this:  reduced cost of health care (ambulance, hospitals, medication), mental health care, services for children, cost to foster care system, broken families.  The positives of supportive recovery homes are:  healthy and contributing men and women. These people are our future – business owners, professionals, healthy mothers and fathers, restored families that are the building blocks of our communities. 

What is the BIGGER picture?We would like to plant the vision of having the ALC give back a small portion of ALR land for the benefit of reclaiming people’s lives.  This is about more than the Abbotsford Women’s Center – it’s about all women, men and children that are devastated by addiction.  We envision the Agricultural Land Commission using our province’s land resources to heal, transform and restore lives.  The ALC could become a partner in the greater good.  Historically, land and people have always lived in harmony.  What a better harmony that healthy, productive people living on the land.  

What is our hope?  Our mandate is to PUT HOPE WITHIN REACH – We whole heartedly believethat our community and government will rally around us – that they will help us to find a facility that meets the growing need for supportive services for vulnerable women.If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. 

Kindest regards,

Angie Appenheimer

Regional Director

Donor Relations | Women’s Ministries

Adult & Teen Challenge BC

Phone:  1.888.575.3930 Ext. 306