Appeal over location of safe consumption site rejected by tribunal
LONDON, ONT. -- Neighbours have lost their appeal regarding London's permanent supervised drug consumption facility.
Ontario’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) has upheld council’s decision to re-zone 446 York Street.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie says the LPAT decision proves the former music store across from Mission Services is the correct location for a permanent facility.
“This is a very big day for the human rights of the most vulnerable people in our community.”
LPAT Member Blair Taylor has dismissed the appeals made during an Oct. 29 hearing by several neighbours.
Taylor’s written decision states 446 York Street is “Well located in between two 'hot spots' for discarded sharps and the tribunal finds that the provision of a SCF (supervised consumption facility) in this location will be a positive step to bettering public health and reducing safety issues to the community at large.”
Mackie says the decision does not yet mean a green light for construction to begin.
“There is a 15-day appeal period. My understanding is that it would be very unlikely that appellants would be granted leave to appeal this situation, so this is really a very hopeful decision.”
Denise Krogman of the Midtown Ratepayers Association learned of the decision from CTV News.
Krogman, whose family owns a car dealership next door to 446 York, says, “I just find it appalling that they wouldn’t consider our neighbourhoods concerns.”
London Mayor Ed Holder was pleased with the decision, “Fundamentally it saves lives. That is what this has always ever been about.”
Holder adds moving supervised drug consumption from the temporary site at 186 King Street will have significant benefits for clients.
“That permanent location also provides wrap-around services that are just more challenging where the permanent site is. So I think this is good for all concerned.”
Mackie says the next step is to secure funding, “At this point we are looking for confirmation of funding from the provincial government. I’m sure that is coming soon and then construction will start.”
According to Krogman, opponents are considering an appeal to the Ontario Ombudsman's office.
She is also distributing flyers asking neighbours to express their concerns directly to Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott.
“We’re far from done fighting this. There are so many people still concerned about their neighbourhood safety. We’ve fought it off since May 2018. We will continue to look forward and hope we can save our neighbourhood.”