By Alfa · Dec 2, 2004 ·
  1. Alfa

    Michael Wilson was the happiest man in Surrey Wednesday when the non-profit society he heads was awarded a $1 million grant from VanCity Credit Union.

    The grant completes the Phoenix Society's search for the $5.6 million it needed to build an addictions treatment centre that includes transitional housing and employment and education services for 100 recovering addicts per year.

    The Phoenix Society was chosen from among three finalists in voting by credit union members.

    "It's been crazy today," Wilson, the society's executive director, said following the announcement. "It gets our capital stuff done. Now we're ready to roll."

    Wilson applauded VanCity for making the money available for projects like his and praised the company for its commitment and leadership in tackling issues like addiction and homelessness.

    "We also want to express our deep gratitude to this community's VanCity members. I really want to thank the entire community," Wilson said.

    The VanCity grant, first awarded in 2001, is the largest corporate donation of its kind in Canada and was established to support social, environmental and economic well-being in the community. The competition is open to non-profit organizations in the Lower Mainland, Victoria and the Fraser Valley.

    The other finalists in this year's competition were the Pacific Legal Education Association and Victoria's Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children, both of which put forward first-class projects, Wilson said.

    Now that Phoenix has the last of the capital funding needed for its centre, Wilson expects construction to begin in February or early March and to have the facility open by next fall.

    The Phoenix Centre will provide 28 recovery beds for addicts, 36 transitional housing units, employment training and education upgrading in a 3,060 square metre (34,000-square-foot), four-storey building adjacent to Surrey Memorial Hospital.

    In September, Surrey council approved a 30-bed detox centre, with six beds reserved for youth, just down the street from Phoenix.

    "We're starting to build some real infrastructure here that we've needed for a long time," Wilson said.

    Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum agreed.

    "It's very good for the city. It's integrated and that means they'll take people right through to get them back into society," McCallum said. "We need more of that."

    He said the city assisted the Phoenix Society in its campaign to get enough votes from VanCity members to win the $1 million grant.

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