EDITORIAL: After 20 years, it’s time to act on problem rehab homes in Surrey

Twenty years ago, kids were listening to grunge music, the O.J. Simpson trial was underway and the North American Free Trade Agreement had just been ratified.

Here in Surrey, unlicensed rehab centres were running rampant, and still are.

Click here to read our in-depth feature on the issue.

It’s high time elected officials stop talking and start monitoring local residential rehab facilities.

Currently, the provincial government licenses recovery homes, and there are 40 registered through the ministry’s Assisted Living Registrar. But if you ask the city, they’ll tell you there are roughly 120 in operation here. That means only a third are licensed.

So what’s wrong with unlicensed, unmonitored rehab houses, anyway?

In today’s Focus (see pages 8 and 9) we introduce you to Michelle Johnston, a former addict who is now flourishing in a licensed recovery home that provides her with support, safety and dignified treatment. For the first time since she was 10, she’s been clean for roughly three months and is moving ahead with her life.

We also tell you about unlicensed operations that exploit their tenants by cramming more than a dozen people into a home and neglect to provide proper nutrition, let alone any rehabilitation program.

We’ve heard, ad nauseum, about how social problems are a root cause of crime. And while it’s good to be hiring more police, authorities must also help give drug and alcohol addicts who want to get better a fighting chance. And this requires action, not 20 more years of talk.

Why not force these operations to have municipal business licenses? That way, the city has the authority to revoke licensing in the event an outfit is deemed unethical, or wreaking havoc on a neighbourhood.

We hope Surrey does indeed introduce business licensing for recovery homes to help get the issue under control. But the ultimate success will be in the enforcement.

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