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Recovery house operator eyes new women-only Surrey location

Cole Izsak hopes to open doors to The Castle on March 1

Women looking for help escaping addiction may soon have another place to turn in Surrey.

Cole Izsak, a South Surrey man who began operating recovery facilities in the city nine years ago, said he is hoping to welcome women into The Castle as of March 1.

If he succeeds, it will be the second women-only residential recovery facility he has launched. The first, Robin’s Nest, opened in September 2021 in Cloverdale, with a response that left Izsak with no doubt it was helping address a profound void.

“It’s such a needed resource for women,” Izsak said. “Since I opened Robin’s Nest, I’ve been inundated with calls.”

READ MORE: New recovery home for women offering hope and a new start

Izsak submitted a business-licence application for The Castle last month, and is optimistic it will be approved.

“I’m so optimistic that I’ve invested about $30,000 in this project,” he said. “The potential is beautiful. I just know that it’s a good thing.”

He is disappointed, however, that he’ll be limited – for now, at least – to accepting fewer clients than he was hoping to accommodate.

While the 6464 144 St. home has 13 bedrooms and eight bathrooms, zoning currently caps the number allowed to live under its roof at 10.

Izsak said without any clients, it’s not feasible for him to continue paying for the new facility for the year that it could take to go through the process of applying for a zoning variance.

He hopes to move the women who are currently at Robin’s Nest into The Castle, and convert Robin’s Nest into a second-stage men’s facility.

Robin’s Nest, he noted, has served 140 women so far, “and done good work.” But the site has also had its challenges. Izsak cited a pervasive smell of manure from an adjacent farm as one issue. Others include that it is not on a public-transit route.

“I want to put these girls in a nicer place, and I’ve found that place,” he said.

The Castle, if given a thumbs-up, will serve as both a first- and second-stage facility, “so that ladies can graduate… and then move to a place that’s a safe stepping stone.”

Izsak said second-stage is for individuals who’ve been clean for 90 to 120 days, who are ready to leave a program-driven residential space. But too often, those who simply move into their own space don’t stay clean, and the end result is tragic, he said.

Izsak cited a recent case as one that weighs on him: that of a 29-year-old man who left Izsak’s first-stage Fortress facility after six months and, without a second-stage placement available, got his own apartment.

“Three weeks later, he was dead. On his 30th birthday, instead of having his birthday, we had his celebration of life.”

Izsak acknowledged that a March 1 opening for The Castle “might be a bit ambitious,” but said knowing the need, it’s important to act as soon as possible.

“You have to strike while the iron is hot,” he said.

“I have lost people that were doing so well. There’s too many people in the trenches still.”

Anyone wanting more information or to offer assistance may reach Izsak at 778-316-2625.
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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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