UPDATED: WJS Canada investigating potential conflict in Conway case, employees suspended

It is unclear how James Conway came to live in Mission, after an initial list of 40 potential locations

This picture of James Conway was uploaded to the 'Protect the Children of Mission BC' Facebook page.

By Frank Bucholtz

UPDATE: WJS Canada – the organization which provides housing and supervision to some Community Living BC clients, including convicted sex offender James Conway in Mission – has put two individuals on administrative leave, pending a conflict of interest investigation.

A statement provided by WJS Canada CEO Peter Farnden reads

“WJS is currently conducting an internal investigation into the matter to determine if there has been a breach of our policies and a potential conflict of interest,” a statement from WJS Canada CEO Peter Farnden. “The individuals involved have been placed on administrative leave during the investigation.”

“We intend to fully cooperate with Community Living BC in their investigation. Should they request an audit we will be completely transparent in providing information requested. We are confident that this is an isolated incident and any investigation into our business practices will confirm this,” Farnden stated, in an email.

“WSJ is committed to finding safe, appropriate housing for our clients to help them reintegrate into society. In the case of Mr. Conway we carefully took into account all the judge’s conditions for release and have done our best to address community concerns while giving our client a chance at a life outside the criminal justice system.”

CLBC spokesperson Randy Schmidt released a statement in response to WJS’s release.

“CLBC is now undertaking a review with WJS Canada over questions about ownership of a home where a CLBC-funded individual resides in Mission,” he stated, in an email. “CLBC was unaware of employee ownership, or any related relationships within WJS. CLBC is concerned about these claims. We are investigating these issues with WJS Canada to confirm the facts, to review its conflict of interest guidelines, and to review procedures that were followed in approving the home. This review will take some time to complete.”

Questions were raised about just why convicted child sex offender came to Mission.

After a meeting Tuesday with a representative of BC Corrections, Mayor Randy Hawes and community representatives learned that the agency had a list of more than 40 potential locations in the Fraser Valley that Conway could move to. He had been living in Abbotsford, but the city had initiated court action to force the home he was in to close, as the property was not zoned for care purposes.

However, BC Corrections reduced the list of potential locations to 14 and the final decision was apparently left made by WJS, according to Schmidt. Conway ended up in a home in Dewdney Trunk Road that is owned by an employee of the contractor, WJS Canada, which provides housing and supervision to some Community Living BC clients.

Angel Elias, a member of the citizens group which is trying to get Conway out of the Mission home, said Corrections BC would not tell those at the meeting the criteria used to select the Mission home, and would not release any information about how the decision was made.

“We were beating a dead horse,” she said.

Conway wears an ankle bracelet and CLBC is responsible for ensuring there is a support worker on the premises at all times. Conway is not allowed to leave unless he is with a support worker.

CLBC and WJS Canada, who had been expected at the meeting Tuesday, did not attend. Elias said they were told the organizations would not meet with protesters.

MLAs Simon Gibson and Marc Dalton were present, as was Hawes on behalf of the District of Mission. Hawes has said the district hopes to use its zoning bylaws to try and get Conway out of the community, as the district says the property is not zoned for care homes or halfway houses. Protesters have been rallying outside the home daily.

Hawes said he believes the use of the home violates zoning bylaws. In Abbotsford, the city took a similar approach, going to court to have zoning bylaws enforced. He moved to Mission at the beginning of August, before B.C Supreme Court had ruled on Abbotsford’s court filing.

Elias said she can’t understand how CLBC would choose a home for Conway that was not zoned for such purposes and is adjacent to a school bus stop.

“They can find money to fund (this location) by subcontracting to a third party and paying for the house, fencing, security and a surveillance camera,” Elias said. “it is disappointing and frustrating.”

Elias said the community members will keep working with the district and local MLAs to get action. She said she wants to see Conway kept in a facility “that will properly house him and make sure it is safe for all.”

She said he should not be living in a residential area where there are children nearby.

Her group has set up a Facebook page “Protect the Children of Mission BC” and has an online petition at that site. The petition, which has grown to 1,201 names, was presented to Mission council Monday night.

The Facebook page also has an up-to-date photo of Conway, who now has long hair and a beard. The photo issued by BC Corrections when it announced Conway was coming to Mission showed a clean-shaven man with short hair.

A previous version of this story stated CLBC made the final decision on where Conway would be housed. According to CLBC spokesperson Randy Schmidt, that decision was in fact made by WJS. The story has been changed.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Barry Shantz in 2015 in front of a homeless camp at Gladys Avenue and Cyril Street. Abbotsford News file photo.
RCMP officers cleared in killing of Abbotsford homeless advocate

Barry Shantz was shot following a mental health crisis at his home on on Jan. 13, 2020,

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Oct. 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Local photographer Wolf Drescher spotted film crews set up along Esplanade Avenue in front of Canwest Art Gallery on the Lake on Thursday, October 1. Film production crews working on ‘Solitary’ will be around the area until close to the end of the month. (Contributed Photo/Wolf Drescher)
“Solitary” Update: Dramatic action scene to be filmed in Agassiz

‘Solitary’ will film a break-in, getaway at Kent Outdoors

A Rick Hansen Secondary School student died in hospital after suffering a medical incident in class on Monday. (File photo)
Abbotsford student dies after medical incident in class

Rick Hansen Secondary School offering additional counselling for students who require it

Stock photo
$93,000 in COVID-19 emergency support available to Abbotsford charities

Applications now open for grants through community foundation

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

A Tim Hortons employee hands out coffee from a drive-through window to a customer in Mississauga, Ont., on March 17, 2020. Tim Hortons is ending the practice of double cupping hot drinks, a move the fast food restaurant says will eliminate hundreds of millions of cups from landfills each year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The end of double cupping: Tim Hortons ditches two cups in favour of one with sleeve

Most recycling facilities in Canada don’t recycle single use paper coffee cups because of a plastic lining

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer doctor Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s chief public health doctor says in the age of social media, fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic has been spreading faster than the virus itself. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
VIDEO: Fake news creates serious issues for battling pandemic, chief public health doc says

Both Tam and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to be responsible about the information they share

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

Officers with the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team were at a White Rock home Tuesday (Oct. 20) to assist Vancouver Police Department with execution of a search warrant. (Contributed photo)
ERT, VPD response to White Rock home connected to homicide: police

Search underway in the 15800-block of Prospect Crescent

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Most Read