Skip to content

Plan in the works for the future of Delta's Little House

The building has been a safe and welcoming space for recovery group meetings and offered community-based supports and counselling
Community members shared about their experience with the city about utilizing the space and the role that the Little House building has played in their lives and those of many Delta families. Sandor Gyarmati photo

The people of Delta should continue to be served by the Little House building in Tsawwassen.

That was the message conveyed by council during its May 6 discussion on the future of the house on 12th Ave. that hosted recovery groups and helped those struggling with substance abuse.

The Phoenix Society, which operated Little House, issued a notification that it was closing April 30 with no other explanation given. The facility was run previously by the Little House Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Society.

In 2021, the Phoenix Drug & Alcohol Recovery & Education Society and Little House Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Society merged, and Phoenix requested the City of Delta continue providing funding to support the transition, with Phoenix saying it intended to expand its operations in Delta and apply for external funding.

A staff report to council said Delta agreed to provide $75,000 for a three-year term. As a part of the agreement, Phoenix provided substance use counselling for up to four, free sessions for Delta residents and their families and subsequent sessions at a reduced rate, as well as free substance use counselling to Delta employees and their family members.

Phoenix also signed a licence agreement to occupy the Little House building, supporting community-led harm reduction and recovery groups. Phoenix rented out space to various community support groups including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and to counsellors for substance use counselling sessions.

The three-year term for the service and licence agreements expired on April 30, and Phoenix elected not to renew.

“Phoenix’s leadership stated that the operations in Delta were not sustainable at the current level of funding and Phoenix was not successful in obtaining grant funding from other organizations,” the report explains.

City staff have been meeting with the Phoenix leadership to prepare for a transitional phase for the Little House building and to explore various options to minimize the disruptions of service and the recovery groups’ meetings.

“Staff has developed a transitional plan for the recovery groups and other community members affected by Phoenix’s ending of the service agreement which allows for the ongoing use of the Little House building in the short term for the recovery groups that have used the site for many years. For the next several months, the City will be responsible for the building’s maintenance/cleaning and Phoenix will continue its administrative support with recovery groups to ensure that Delta residents have access to critical community resources,” the report adds.

The city has also held several meetings with community groups and residents to better understand the impact of the change in operations at the Little House building.

“Staff will support the transitional phase in the coming months and report back to council seeking direction on a long-term strategy for the Little House building and the functions that it has served,” the report notes.

Saying he received messages from several concerned residents who have attended Little House and relied on its services, Coun. Dylan Kruger said, “I know there is a lot of concern what the future looks like for those meetings and that space.”

He said the building should continue to be used for activities that support recovery.

Mike Brotherston, Delta’s Director of Corporate Services, said Phoenix did not provide the city a proposal to continue and that other groups utilizing the space had indicated alternative spaces would not work for them. While those groups are using the space for the time being, a plan will be presented to council in the near future for a proposed permanent solution for the ongoing use of the building.

Mayor George Harvie said the city had entered into the agreement in good faith but now hopes the building can continue to serve its purpose for the community.

Originally a family home, the little white house purchased by Delta in 1979 to serve as a home for programs offered by Delta Mental Health and Richmond Alcohol and Drug Action Team.

In 1982, it was made available for 12-step meetings. In 2004, the Little House Society was established to oversee the facility.

For 27 years, the house served as a meeting place for recovery and support groups before being destroyed by fire in 2009.

The Little House Society set out to not only rebuild but expand, and in 2010 launched a campaign to raise the $250,000 needed to achieve that goal.

The Little House opened its doors again in 2012.