Brandon Jansen and mom Michelle at the Powell River rehabilitation centre the day before he died of a fentanyl overdose in his room in March, 2016. Submitted photo Brandon Jansen and mom Michelle at the Powell River rehabilitation centre the day before he died of a fentanyl overdose in his room in March, 2016. Submitted photo

Penticton addiction recovery centre plan halted by neighbours

Recovery centre operator said neighbours bought property ‘in haste’

Michelle Jansen lost her son to an overdose, and now she feels she is losing the battle to help others dealing with drug addiction.

In November she told the Western News she was purchasing a property in the city to address a lack of appropriate care to help people work on their addiction recovery. She had envisioned hosting an open house at the property for the public in December. This week, she found out neighbours of the property she was planning to buy on Juniper Drive to create the treatment facility in her son’s name, the Brandon Jansen Memorial Recovery Centre, had squeezed in and bought it themselves.

Related: Penticton rehab centre to open in memory of son

“What is ironic is that clearly, the neighbours are unaware of all the issues that we had discovered and went and bought the property in haste to block a recovery centre from coming into their neighbourhood,” said Jansen. “I am welcoming this information to get out there because this a prime example of the stigma out there still in the public about addiction.”

Jansen said after finding a number of deficiencies in the million-dollar-plus property she went back to the sellers with her realtor asking for concessions. Ultimately, Jansen said, she decided to not move forward with the purchase and instead look elsewhere. At the same time, she said, her realtor informed her that the sellers collapsed the deal. Unbeknownst to her, it was to sell to the neighbours.

“Clearly these neighbours have not been hit with the opioid crisis within the inner circle, but the reality is such that it is coming and it will arrive on their doorstep. They haven’t derailed our plans. We are still going to open. Now we are delayed until February. We are just finalizing an alternate property. We have a waiting list for people requiring help and so what they have done is roadblocked these people from getting any help and, ultimately, the people on our waiting list today — a number of them will be dead by February,” said Jansen.

Related: Penticton treatment centre owner says she plans to raise the bar in care

Jansen said there is an ignorance surrounding addiction and that is adding to the problem. Addiction touches all genders, classes and races, and many addicts fear the shame and criticism that comes with having an addiction. She added there is no reason to be scared of an addiction centre in your neighbourhood. The property she wanted was to be gated, have security cameras and people would be supervised 24-7.

“We are not housing pedophiles. We are not treating pedophilia. We are not treating abusers of children. We are dealing with people who are addicted to drugs. These people are at no more of a risk to children than the average person,” she said about concerns she read the neighbours were worried about children living in the vicinity of the house if it became a recovery centre.

Jansen added that not one neighbour had reached out to her to ask questions or let her know of their concerns.

“I am so glad this is coming out in the media because people need to understand it is not ‘those people,’ it is not people on the Downtown Eastside, it is not homeless people down on the corner, this addiction does not discriminate. It is affecting everyone in all walks of life.”

She was also surprised to learn the neighbours had bought the property after she and her realtor Hardy Maier of Home Team Realty Group had decided not to buy it back on Nov. 18. They were unable to negotiate with the sellers after she said her inspectors had found a number of issues relating to the building that needed repair.

“These deficiencies are always negotiable and that’s where we were at, just trying to find a cost to repair but we walked away and decided to look for something else,” said Maier. “If the neighbours are that negative about the attributes of helping people in recovery in their city there’s not much we can do about it, it’s political.

“That’s a big outlay (neighbour’s purchase). We were at $1.4 million. I hope that they know what they bought, they could be into some issues. I mean, we didn’t get any written estimates but in my construction experience you could be looking at anywhere from 50 to 100 grand to repair it.”

Meanwhile, Jansen pleads that everyone should become educated on addiction.

“There has been so much information out there and there is so much information relative to this crisis out there that I am encouraging everyone in the general public to educate themselves and to do some research and not to put their blinders on because that is what is also leading to the number of deaths that are increasing every single day.”

As of the publication of this story, Juniper Drive neighbours who purchased the house that Jansen was scouting as a site for the treatment facility did not return phone call requests for an interview with the Western News.

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