Maxxine Wright Centre

Case Studies / Space profiles

Maxxine Wright Centre

Space Profile

  • Name of Space: Maxxine Wright Centre
  • Society Mission: "Atira Women’s Resource Society is dedicated to supporting women and children affected by violence by offering safe and supportive housing and by delivering education and advocacy aimed at ending all forms of gendered violence." [1]
  • Owner - Land: Atira Women’s Resource Society
  • Owner - Building/Improvements: Atira Women’s Resource Society
  • Tenant: Fraser Health Authority (Community Health Centre)
  • Rent/Lease/Own: Own
  • Address: 13729 - 92nd Avenue, Surrey, BC, V3V 1H9
  • Square Footage: 47,426 sq/ft
  • Year Opened: Phase 1 - 2010; Phase 2 - 2011
  • Space/Facility Type: Institutional (ie. childcare centres, schools, etc); Multi-functional; Residential Non-Market Housing
  • Organizational Type: Registered Not for Profit; Registered Charity
  • Space/Facility Use: Healthcare; Childcare, Non market housing 
  • Programs/Services Delivered: A Community Health Centre, 12-Bed Shelter Residential Units, 24-Unit Second Stage Housing Program[2], And Early Care / Learning Centre [3].
  • Website:

Case Study

Concept & Need
Partnerships & People
Timeline & Steps to Realization
funding & financing
Operations & Tenanting
Impact & Lessons Learned



The Maxxine Wright Centre[4] is a LEED Gold, purpose-built facility in Surrey, BC that delivers programs and services for at-risk women who are pregnant or have children, and who struggle with substance use, mental health diagnoses and/or experiences of violence[5]. In 2005, Atira Women’s Resource Society purchased the land on which the Maxxine Wright Centre was eventually built, and brought together four core partners–Atira Women’s Resource Society (Atira), Fraser Health Authority (FHA), Options Community Services Society (OCSS) and the Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD)—to champion the Centre vision to reality. Fraser Health Authority’s Community Health Centre, as the primary tenant, works in conjunction to Atira’s on-site programming. The 47,426 sq/ft facility was built in two phases: Phase 1 opened in 2010 and includes the Community Health Centre which provides comprehensive women-centred health care and social supports, 12 short-term shelter beds, a 59-space childcare centre, a pre-natal and post-natal clinic and a community kitchen[6]. Phase 2, which opened in 2011, includes 24 long-term, Stage 2 transitional housing units.


COncept & Need

The vision for the Maxxine Wright Centre was to create a place that could support at-risk women pregnant or with children, with support services that would strengthen long-term outcomes for these mothers and their families. A strong belief in women being able to turn their lives around as well as a chance to maintain custody of their children, drove the vision of the Centre. In 2002, Nancy Poole, Director of the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, connected with Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society[7] to convey interest by the Provincial Government in Atira’s vision for a health centre that focussed on women affected by violence.  Atira convened a meeting in November 2002 with a group of service providers in Surrey including the Fraser Health Authority and Ministry of Child and Family Development[8]. At first, Janice on behalf of Atira, and Jan Radford, then Director of Maternal Child Services at Surrey Memorial Hospital, Fraser Health Authority[9], were cautious. However, after months of discussion and exploration, they realized they shared the same vision and with the mutual understanding of the values of each other’s organization, the vision for the Maxxine Wright Centre was borne.


Partnerships & People

Realizing a project of this size and sensitivity required multiple partners from the non-profit, government and social/community services sectors. Atira began with a grant from the Status of Women Canada to do a community needs assessment. Elizabeth Robinson was hired to meet with women's organizations, service providers, and government agencies and through that process, identified four core partners–the Ministry of Child and Family Development, Atira Women's Resource Society, Options Community Services Society[10](formerly Surrey Community Services), and the Fraser Health Authority. The idea was that the four core partners would be the operators/service providers as well as establish offices at Maxxine Wright Centre. These four created a Community Advisory Group to guide the project, and Elizabeth Robinson provided recommendations for how this project should be set up.
Program Building - Maxxine Wright Centre
Photo Credit: Dick Stout
Jan Radford was recruited by Fraser Health Authority in 2001, and without the support of her supervisor, Loretta Solomon, the FHA would likely not have been involved. Additionally, Joanne Konnert, who was leaving FHA, heard about Maxxine Wright Centre and put year-end budget money towards FHA at the Maxxine Wright Centre ensuring FHA’s operational longevity at the Centre.
The project team for the building included Terra Housing – Development Management Services; Light House Sustainable Building Centre – LEED Project Management; Davidson Yuen Simpson Architecture and VanMar Constructors Inc.
Janice Abbott and Atira Women’s Resource Society ultimately drove the project from vision to completion and continues to provide leadership in its day to day operations.

 "At the end of the day, the organizations that made the Maxxine Wright Centre happen were Atira Women’s Resource Society and the Fraser Health Authority."

Janice Abbott, Executive Director and CEO, Atira Women’s Resource Society


Timeline & Steps to Realization

In 2005, Atira found a 2-acre site in Surrey and with a $500,000 grant from the Province and a loan from Vancity Capital Corp[11]. was able to purchase the land. On the site was  a former decommissioned care home as well as an operating daycare. Atira and FHA decided to open the Community Health Centre in the existing daycare when it vacated the property (when the property ownership changed hands). Fraser Health Authority provided Atira with a capital grant to renovate the former daycare and signed a lease[12] with Atira to occupy the space, enabling Atira to secure and service a mortgage for the land purchase. The combination of equity from the Province, a mortgage from Vancity and rent payments from the Fraser Health Authority enabled the opening of the Community Health Centre[13] in 2005. This small 2500 sq/ft Health Centre quickly established proof for needed services.
Also in 2005, Atira received a $250,000 year-end grant from the Ministry of Child and Family Development and hired a Project Coordinator to work on programming at the space. With this underway, Atira focused attention on raising funds for the building, securing funding from BC Housing, and securing a first $1 million grant from the Surrey Housing and Homelessness Committee.
Phasing the project was critical to realizing the Maxxine Wright Centre – both in getting programs up and running and in the delivery of the two capital projects. By phasing the project, the Community Health Centre did not have to temporarily close and risk losing funding. Phase I included the new building for the shelter beds, Community Health Centre and childcare. Once the Community Health Centre was moved to the new building, the old existing site building was demolished and construction commenced on Phase II for the 24 Stage 2 residential units.


 "If there was any weakness of the heart, it didn’t show even though it took a consistent five years to push the agenda forward. [We had to battle] all the stigma around substance use on many different fronts. Changing attitudes [towards addiction and harm-reduction] was key." Jan Radford, former Director of Maternal Child Services at Surrey Memorial Hospital, Fraser Health Authority

Maxxine Wright Centre – Timeline
Concept/Idea: 2002
Feasibility Studies: 2003
Land Purchase: 2005
Community Health Centre Opened: 2005
Program Building (Phase 1)
Construction/Renovation: 2009
Move-In: 2010
Residential Building (Phase 2)
Construction: 2009/2010
Move-In: 2011


Project Budget

The Maxxine Wright Centre attracted capital from three levels of government. These funding partners demonstrate the multi-sectoral, multi-partner approach to the Maxxine Wright Centre.

  • $1.5 million – Ministry of Child and Family Development (Provincial)
  • $1.2 million – Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (Federal)
  • $1 million – Surrey Homelessness and Housing Fund (City of Surrey)
  • $500,000 – BC Housing Loan (provided for the residential portion of the project)[14]
  • $13,764,936 – Toronto-Dominion (TD) Bank mortgage[15]
  • $101,868 – Miscellaneous (TBC)
  • $18,066,804 – Total
  • $703,426 – Land cost
  • $17,363,378 – Hard and Soft Construction costs[16]
  • $18,066,804 – Total


Operations & Tenanting

The Maxxine Wright Centre is financially stable due to an operating subsidy from the Province of BC. With this funding, Atira is able to offer a below-market lease rate to Fraser Health Authority for their space at the Centre. The FHA Lease runs on a 5-year term with the first lease renewal completed in 2015. The renewal includes a 5-year option to extend.

Given the vision of the project and services provided at the Maxxine Wright Centre, there is a concern that the Centre is under-resourced, and that additional funding would realize improved / expanded services. For example, the Community Health Centre has a commercial kitchen and a drop-in space/meeting room, but is only open Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm. Additional usage would maximize programming and impacts, but additional funding is needed to support that use.

In 2017, the Ministry of Child and Family Development provided funding for extra staff and improved service capacity at the Centre. The new funds were directed to relief staff to assist with supervised visits for women who have had their children apprehended. This critical funding and service now enables onsite family visits between mother and child.

 "The three core partners meet twice a year to just solve problems. The meetings are a way to prevent problems or try to resolve them. When we meet, it's more about maintaining the vision. The only operation stuff we will talk about is stuff that has bubbled up to us. Core partner meetings began even before the building was built."

 Janice Abbott, Executive Director and CEO, Atira Women’s Resource Society

Impact & Lessons Learned

Since opening, Maxxine Wright Centre has exceeded its initial mandate to work with at risk women who are pregnant and/or have children. Today, there are 800 women on the wait list for the Community Health Centre alone. The impact of Maxxine Wright Centre on the lives of women and children has been observed through the continued demand for the services provided by the Fraser Health Authority and the need for supportive housing.
As with all capital projects, but especially those involving multiple partners, various challenges are a normal part of any project. For the Maxxine Wright Centre, an early challenge came when Options Community Services Society stepped away as one of the four core partners. The initial plan was to have Options operate the childcare. With their change in plans, a replacement operator was needed and Atira approached a number of organizations-- Vancouver Association of Childcare Centres, the YMCA and others to assess interest. At the time, those organizations did not have the capacity to take on the project leaving Atira to become the operator. Because Childcare centre operations were not generally an Atira service, this proved difficult. Initially overstaffed without sufficient enrolment to support the operation, the first two years suffered $120,000 in losses. With several years of operation now underway by Atira, the childcare operation is now stable.[17]
Community Kitchen - Maxxine Wright Centre
Photo Credit: VanMar Constructors Inc

A challenge of a slightly different nature, was the fish-bearing creek on-site which required a series of negotiations with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to determine an allowable building program including required building setbacks. At one point, the setbacks requested by the DFO were so extensive that Janice Abbott did not think the project was going to happen. In the end, the setbacks were relaxed, signalling the importance of the project to the City of Surrey and region.

Beyond the incredible impact the Maxxine Wright Centre has on women and their children’s lives, a ‘sweet success’ of the project was in the land purchase. In many situations, non-profit organizations wait until all of their funding is in place before making a large acquisition or wait for some other body to provide the land. In the case of Atira and the Maxxine Wright Centre, if the organization had not purchased the land, the project may have never happened. The support of the Board at Atira, coupled with the early opening of the Community Health Centre, established a proof of need and value for the Centre that gave confidence to the organization to take the risk and proceed.

 “A lesson learned for everyone is you got to be able to take some risks and if you wait until everything is in place, you're going to miss some important opportunities.”

Janice Abbott, Executive Director and CEO, Atira Women’s Resource Society


© 2018 Social Purpose Real Estate Collaborative. Portions of this Case Study may be reproduced for research and educational purposes. Please credit: “Social Purpose Real Estate Collaborative”  


Spre Case Study Interviewees

  • Janice Abbott (JA) - Executive Director & CEO, Atira Women’s Resource Society. Interviewed: September 26, 2017
  • Jan Radford (JR) - former Director of Maternal Child Services at Surrey Memorial Hospital, Fraser Health Authority. Interviewed: October 6, 2017





1. Mission, Vision, Values (2011). Atira Women's Resource Society. 
2. Second Stage Housing Program offers 24 units of supportive housing to women and their young children. Women who are pregnant or who have a youngest child under age 2 (older siblings are still welcome) are given priority. 
3. Provides support to children and their families or guardians through promotion, prevention, and early intervention approaches and is available to residents at Maxine Wright and from the local neighbourhood.
4. Maxine Wright Centre is named for 'Maxx', who first came to Durrant Transition House (operated by Atira Women's Resource Society in White Rock, BC), in 1992, when her son was just three months old. Over the course of the next ten years, Maxx was involved with Atira Women's Society as a resident, volunteer and for a short time, as a member of the staff. For all of her life she struggled with issues of grief and loss related to the death of her mother when she was just a child and her subsequent separation from her biological family, a process that took place over the course of her childhood. Maxx died in 2002 at the age of 39 after a brief battle with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She left behind her son who turned ten on the day Maxx died. Today Maxx's son is living in his ancestral territory with his maternal uncle, auntie and cousins - a family reunification Maxx longed for herself all her life. Mazzine Wright Place Project for High Risk Pregnant and Early Parenting Women (2003).
5. Maxxine Wright Centre. Terra Housing - Developing Social Purpose Real Estate.
6. Developing Social Purpose Real Estate.
7. Atira Woman's Resource Society is a not-for-profit organization commited to the work of ending violence against women through providing direct service, as well as working to increase awareness of and education around the socpe and impact on our communities of men's violence against women and children.
8. The Ministry of Child and Family Development works together with delgated Aboriginal Agencies, Aboriginal service partners and approximately 5,400 contracted community social service agencies and foster homes, cross-government and social sector partners to deliver inclusive, culturally respectful, responsive and accessible services that support the well-being of children. youth and families.
9. The Fraser Health Authority delivers a wide range of health care services to more than 1.8 million people living in communities stretching from Burnaby to White Rock to Hope.
10. Options Community Services in a non-profit, registered charity providing social services primarily in Surrey, Delta and Langley. Effective April 1, 2009, two societies, Surrey Community Services Society and OPTIONS: Services to Communities Society, merged to create Options Community Services Society. The merger allowed the new organization to be even more responsive to the needs of a rapidly growing community.
11. Vancity Capital Corp. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vancity Credit Union. Vancity Capital Corp. specializes in growth capital, emerging growth and mezzanine investments for growth-stage companies with an impact focus. It seeks to finance mature and middle-market companies for expansions, strategic acquisitions, marketing, and management and partner buyouts. It typically provides financing in the form of stretch debt. subordinated debt, convertible debentures and mezzanine financing.
12. Fraser Health Authority leases the Community Health Centre from Atira because BC Housing legally cannot subsidise the non-residential portions of the building.
13. The Maxxine Wright Community Health Centre works with mothers to provide comprehensive woman-centred health care and social supports, including pre-and post-natal medical and nursing care, alcohol and drug counselling, STI/HIV education and support, immunizations and health information. Offered in partnership with FHA. MCFD, and OPTIONS: Services to Communities Society. Works with women who are impacted by substance use or violence who are pregnant or parenting a child under two at time of intake.
14. Issued January 1, 2016: 0% interest; forgivable over 25 years
15. Issued July 1, 2011; 4.016% interest, amortization is 35 years
16. Hard construction costs include all building costs, on and offsite servicing, parking and retrofit, theatre/amenity improvememnts, contigency, etc. Soft construction costs include architect and engineer fees, consulting fees, legal fees, surveying, insurance, municipal fees, etc.
17. Atira operates two daycares, opening the Willow Early Care and Learning Centre in Richmond, BC in 2017.