Langley City ReStore. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

New ReStore in Langley City separate from Fraser Valley controversy, spokesperson says

Upper Fraser Valley (UFV) Habitat for Humanity stores were shut down over financial issues

Stephani Baker, the operation manager for Habitat for Humanity Greater Vancouver, wants to talk about the new ReStore non-profit that is opening in Langley City.

But before she discusses the opening of the 18,000 square foot building on Logan Avenue, Baker fields some questions about the troubled Upper Fraser Valley (UFV) Habitat for Humanity that was based in neighbouring Abbotsford.

Bakers spends a few minutes explaining how the Greater Vancouver affiliate operates as a separate entity, and has nothing to do with the UFV beyond sharing a similar name and involvement with the larger Habitat organization.

“Everyone operates separately,” Baker says.

“We (only) share a brand.”

It became necessary to draw that distinction after the Upper Fraser Valley affiliate had a meltdown that saw ReStore locations in Abbotsford and Chilliwack closed on May 12.

Habitat for Humanity Canada terminated the membership of the Upper Fraser Valley (UFV) affiliate, saying the branch had “overextended itself” financially.

The newly appointed acting CEO of the UFV branch, David Morris, said the affiliate had racked up at least $500,000 in debt, had exhausted its lines of credit, and had a “disturbing pattern of activity” that included a senior manager “making the unauthorized purchase of an expensive vehicle that was then portrayed as personal property.”

The Greater Vancouver affiliate, as the closest neighbouring Habitat organization, will assume the administration and responsibility for the mortgages of two local homes built in partnership with low-income families.

READ MORE: Union files ‘unfair labour practice’ complaint against Habitat for Humanity

READ MORE: Sources question real reasons for closure of local Habitat for Humanity

“People consider us (Habitat affiliates) to be one,” Baker said, confirming she has had to explain the distinction to donors and volunteers more than once.

“We weren’t involved.”

With that out of the way, Baker returns to the subject of the just-announced new store.

Like other ReStores, it raises funds by selling a mix of building supplies and furniture, money that goes to help build housing for the needy.

It’s a mix of donor goods, end-of-inventory and returns to Habitat partners like Home Depot.

About half the space in the Langley store will be used as a collection point and hub to distribute goods to other ReStore outlets.

Baker is optimistic some of the Langley residents who used to volunteer with the Upper Fraser Valley stores will help with the new, closer-to-home location.

The non-profit currently has four ReStore locations across Greater Vancouver

The Langley ReStore at 20104 Logan Ave., just off 200 Street and south of Highway 10, planned to launch a “soft opening” with the official event happening July 28, 29 and 30. A 30 per cent off sale is planned.

– with files from the Abbotsford News



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

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Langley City ReStore interior. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

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