Interview with the Ontario Human Rights Commissioner 7:01

After a more than two-year battle, Lynwood Charlton Centre has won an Ontario Municipal Board challenge to locate a group home on Augusta Street.

The OMB ruling overturns the city's attempt to block the move by denying the centre a zoning bylaw amendment. The decision means that the centre for girls with mental health issues will be able to locate its eight-bed home at 121 Augusta St., home of its day treatment program and the site of a former mill.

It also means that it will move out of the city-owned building at 52-56 Charlton Ave., which needs $1.2 million in repairs.

The city contested the Augusta Street zoning change based on a radial separation bylaw limiting the number of residential treatment beds in a 300-metre radius. The hearing was split into two phases — the first for planning issues and the second to deal with the radial separation bylaw.

This decision impacted phase one. It's unclear what this means for phase two, Barbara Hall, Ontario's human rights commissioner, told CBC Hamilton on Wednesday. The Ontario Human Rights Commission is a party in the dispute.


Alex Thomson, executive director of the Lynwood Charlton Centre, says the agency has been "holding its breath" waiting for a decision. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Alex Thomson, executive director of the centre, learned of the decision late Tuesday.

"We're pretty delighted today," he said.

The decision, dated Aug. 23, deals with an emotional issue that has embroiled politicians and residents for the past year. Lynwood Charlton first approached the city in early 2011 about moving the girls out of the Charlton Avenue building and into its Corktown property.

The beds should be moved to the new facility by early 2014, Thomson said. The centre plans to do some remedial work on the building, then renovate and implement a plan to move the program from one location to another.

"This is brand new news, and we haven't really completely outlined a strategic timeline," he said. "We were holding our breath waiting for a decision."

The commission was "hopeful" that this would be the outcome, Hall said.

"We're very pleased that this group of young women will have good, safe housing very soon and also that the concept that good planning includes human rights principles such as anti-discrimination, accessibility and accommodation has been reaffirmed."

The radial separation bylaw prohibits more than 20 beds in a 300-metre radius. There is currently a four-to-six-bed facility at 135 Forest Ave. that is also operated by Lynwood Charlton, and a six-bed facility for adults at 106 Catharine St. S.

"The board is…satisfied that there are no demonstrated impacts from this proposed development," the ruling said. "The proposed use will be compatible with the existing uses in the neighbourhood and will not result in any social impacts."