March 11, 2019 11:54 pm
Updated: March 12, 2019 12:02 am

Vancouver Recovery Club, a 24/7 addiction drop-in centre, may lose city funding and close at night

Vancouver Recovery Club executive director Bill Wong says the centre is the only 24/7 addiction centre in the city.

Vancouver Recovery Club

Vancouver’s only 24-hour addiction centre may soon have to close its doors at night, after City of Vancouver staff recommended that council cut part of its funding.

Vancouver Recovery Club executive director Bill Wong said that the centre is eligible for funding under the Direct Social Services Grant., according to a city staff report.

But the report recommended against providing the funding, because other applications have been “rated higher in addressing city priorities.”

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“It’s not funny, but it is comical that they would say that,” Wong said.

“That we’re not on the priority list and yet the opioid crisis is… they’re dying. And we’re here to help. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

The application for funding for the Vancouver Recovery Club’s 24/7 Drop In and Referral Centre program, included in the city staff’s report, described it as assisting “a vulnerable population to connect with social services, health, mental health, and other services to promote wellness and guidance to a sustainable lifestyle.”

The report said the program “meets eligibility criteria but funding [is] not recommended as [the] grants budget is limited and other applications [are] rated higher in addressing city priorities.”

READ MORE: 2,066 Canadians died of opioid overdoses in the first half of 2018

Wong said the centre operates under a policy of abstinence, which means no drugs or alcohol on site. Instead, addicts trying to distract themselves from wanting to use can come in for shelter, warmth and snacks.

He said the funding has allowed the centre to pay its staff, so that it can stay open all night and provide an essential service for addicts who need help.

“Three o’clock in the morning when everything’s closed, that’s when they have their issues. Having doors closed would be devastating,” Wong said.

“But if we did receive the funding we would be able to keep our doors open and service residents of Vancouver that are vulnerable, that need help, that are looking for help.”

READ MORE: Opioid crisis may be lowering Canadians’ life expectancy, report says

Wong will be visiting Vancouver City Council to appeal for the funding. He said the Vancouver Recovery Club has received $36,000 from the city every year for 20 years — except for last year, when it was cut to $20,000, and this year, when it threatens to be cut completely.

Wong said with the opioid crisis going on, this isn’t the time to cut services that help.

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