Kitchener-Waterloo

Cambridge extends bylaw banning supervised consumption sites downtown

Cambridge city council has voted to extend a temporary bylaw preventing supervised consumption sites from being set up within 500 meters of the three downtown cores. That includes 150 Main St., one of four locations the Region of Waterloo had shortlisted for a provincially-funded supervised consumption site.

Regional Chair Karen Redman says it would be 'imprudent to go forward' with site at 150 Main St.

The Region of Waterloo had shortlisted 150 Main St., in Cambridge as one of four potential locations for a provincially-funded supervised consumption site. But Cambridge city council has extended an interim control bylaw banning the sites downtown amid continued opposition from residents and businesses. (Google Maps)

Cambridge city council has voted to extend a temporary bylaw to keep a supervised consumption site out of downtown cores.

The interim control bylaw, which council first enacted last year, prevents a site from being set up within 500 meters of the three downtown cores.

That includes 150 Main St., one of four locations the Region of Waterloo had shortlisted for a provincially-funded supervised consumption site.

The city has been at odds with the region over the proposed location for several months. Mayor Kathryn McGarry said council decided to renew the bylaw, which was set to expire April 6, because of continued opposition from the community.

"It was important for council and the residents and businesses to identify that 150 Main St. is not a good candidate for a consumption and treatment site," McGarry told CBC News.

"So it was important for council to move ahead to extend the bylaw for one more year … in order to have enough time to help identify a candidate site that might be more suitable for a possible consumption and treatment site."

The interim bylaw is now in effect until March 26, 2020. McGarry said the extension also gives city staff time to complete a planning study that will update official plan policies and zoning regulations to address any future supervised consumption sites.

The study will also consider whether a permanent bylaw to block a site from the downtown core is possible, she said.

Site would require local council support

The Ontario government plans to fund a total of 21 consumption and treatment sites across the province. The region has submitted a letter of intent to open a site to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

But even if the province gives the region the green light, Chair Karen Redman said any location would still require support from local council.

"The current provincial program funding provincial treatment sites requires local municipalities to agree with the project going forward," Redman explained.

"The real reality is, why would we go against what is clearly expressed by the community and the council of Cambridge, or any municipality for that matter? So, it would be imprudent to go forward, knowing that there was that kind of opposition."

For her part, McGarry doesn't think there is the "political will" to go forward with 150 Main St. as a location, both at the local and regional council level.

"I can tell you that many of our regional councillors that ultimately make the decision, because it's a regional government service, are also not in favour of this particular site," she said.

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