Back on Track founder Cole Izsak (third from left) with some of the 40 clients who call his 9889 140 St. facility home. (File photo)

‘Reprieve’ for Surrey recovery house: operator

City says wait is on province, province says wait is on city

An appeal hearing for a South Surrey man who was ordered to cease operating his Back on Track recovery homes due to lack of licensing is not anticipated to come before council until the fall, city officials say.

Until then, “we would encourage residents to seek out a recovery program that is currently compliant with both municipal and provincial regulations,” Surrey’s acting manager of public safety operations Kim Marosevich said this week.

The update followed cancellation of a rally that had been planned for outside Surrey city hall Monday evening (July 8) to muster support for Back on Track.

READ MORE: Surrey recovery house operator plans city-hall rally

READ MORE: Days numbered for Surrey’s Back on Track recovery homes

Facility founder Cole Izsak told Peace Arch News that he called off the rally after an apparent “reprieve” by the bylaws department, which last month issued notices advising Izsak that his business licences for Back on Track were being cancelled as of July 10. At that time, he was told he had until June 21 to cease operations at three of his six sites, and was given until Aug. 15 to vacate two other units due to lack of licensing.

Izsak said bylaw officers inspected all of the Back on Track sites last Friday (July 5) and “seems to have given us a reprieve.”

“It seems they are going to give me a little more time to get my Assisted Living Registration which could be finalized as early as this coming week,” Izsak told PAN by email Sunday.

Marosevich told Black Press Media last month that the issue around licensing Back on Track was with the operator’s inability to obtain the required provincial permits.

“There have been challenges with the locations meeting the requirements of the province for quite some time,” Marosevich said, adding that the city was “provided notice” from the province that permits would not be issued based on inspections.

She told PAN Monday that the provincial registration from the ALR “is a condition of the business license and must be issued before we can confirm reinstating the license.”

Officials with the province, however, told PAN a business licence is needed to complete ALR registration.

Izsak said Back on Track has received an “enormous amount of support” over the past few weeks, following word of its challenges.

He had planned to spread a two-fold message at the called-off rally: “Our message is going to be save Back on Track, and close down these hell holes where people are dying,” he told PAN when announcing the rally.

The latter point was a reference to an apparent lack of repercussions for licensed Surrey recovery homes where overdose deaths – which in December included that of a young South Surrey man – have been reported and conditions have been described as “deplorable.”

READ MORE: Grieving mom says son who died in Surrey recovery house ‘would’ve been better off homeless’

Marosevich said the city remains in contact with the ALR regarding Back on Track “and other recovery homes in the City.”

“I understand the province is in review of the (Back on Track) application and will advise us when they make a decision,” she said.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

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