A Langley organization that helps men recover from alcohol and drug addictions is planning to more than double capacity at its facility.
On Nov. 6, Township council gave first and second reading to a proposal that would see Wagner Hills Farm Society increase their beds from 50 to 119.
The Christian-based organization, located on a 45 acre farm at 8061 264 St., has been in operation since 1981 as a place of recovery for broken men in addiction. The property features eight greenhouses, a blueberry patch, a colony of beehives and two barns with a herd of cattle and pig pen — all of which are used in their recovery programs. In 2008, a women’s campus opened on 216 Street near 4 Avenue and a marketplace was created this year to sell products created by their residents.
Wagner Hills already received non-farm use approval for the expansion from the Agricultural Land Commission in 2010, and should their zoning amendment be approved by the Township, they plan to build additional buildings on site to accommodate the increase in residents. The Ministry of Agriculture will also need to approve the rezoning bylaw before council can give final reading.
Coun. Kim Richter asked if Wagner’s expansion will change their rehabilitation method from one that focuses on farming to one that is more institutional.
Mayor Froese said he doesn’t believe that to be the case.
“I’ve visited that facility several times and their farm is an integral part of the operations. The blueberries, the nursery, they have some livestock, and that’s one of the ways that they fund their operations. So I expect that’s going to continue and I believe they’ll have more hands on deck to help out,” Froese said.
“Our understanding is that the operation of the facility is not going to change in terms of the farm use,” added Ramin Seifi, Township general manager of engineering and community development.
Coun. Petrina Arnason asked if the new buildings will leave a large footprint.
“I’m very supportive of the idea, I think it’s great to have people that are in rehabilitation programs and that they’re actually using this for an agricultural purpose, but I just did wonder about that,” she said.
Seifi replied that no new building plans have been brought forward to staff yet, but if they do, Wagner will be subject to the building permit process.
Coun. Blair Whitmarsh voiced his support for the proposal.
“This is a tremendous facility and the work they do is tremendous for our community, and this expansion up to 119 beds I think is fantastic,” he said.