Abby House has been operating at 2676 Gladys Ave. in Abbotsford since 1991. The building was heavily damaged by a fire in October. (Submitted photo)

Abby House has been operating at 2676 Gladys Ave. in Abbotsford since 1991. The building was heavily damaged by a fire in October. (Submitted photo)

Abbotsford mental-health organization weighs options after fire destroys building

Abby House considers whether to restore old home or build a new one

An Abbotsford organization that supports people with severe and persistent mental illness is considering its next options after a fire heavily damaged the building it had been in for more than 30 years.

Abby House, which is operated by the non-profit organization Creative Centre Society, is temporarily renting space at the Abbotsford Social Activity Association’s building in downtown Abbotsford.

They had been in their building at 2676 Gladys Avenue since 1991 but it was damaged by a fire on Oct. 13 that was suspected to have been caused by someone trying to stay warm while using drugs.

Adina MacDonald, program facilitator and mental health worker, said their insurance will help them rebuild but will not replace the contents, such as furniture.

She said the organization is in the process of deciding their next steps — whether they restore the building, which was built in 1910 or build new with social housing as part of the project.

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“As many community members and businesses in Abbotsford know, there is a tremendous lack of social housing in our area which, combined with the opioid crisis and homelessness, contributes to people living in survival mode and doing what they can to stay warm and dry during the coldest months of the year,” she said.

MacDonald said Abby House often found its parking lot being used as temporary shelter, and would often arrive to find evidence of shelters, campfires, debris, drug paraphernalia and human waste.

The organization provides skill-building, wellness and support groups every day, while also assisting clients in employment and volunteer searches.

MacDonald said the rebuild/build effort has already been supported by a large donation from Fraserway RV.

Others who want to donate to the cause can do so online at canadahelps.org by searching “Creative Centre Society for Mental Wellness.”

For more information on how to support, including community partnerships, contact executive director Jennifer Ridgeway at 604-308-0385 or visit creativecentresociety.org.

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Abby House at 2676 Gladys Ave. was heavily damaged by a fire in October. (Submitted photo)

Abby House at 2676 Gladys Ave. was heavily damaged by a fire in October. (Submitted photo)