The Medical building on King Street East opposite the High School is empty and its owners are proposing to use it as a drug rehabilitation centre. This would include clients being accommodated overnight. Current zoning allows it to be used for medical purposes but not overnight stays although current zoning bylaws do not explicitly mention rehabilitation centres so the situation is not clear. (A legal opinion/ interpretation said they were not allowed). However, zoning bylaws are currently being reviewed so this may change. The review started in 2011 with a contract to Meridian Planning Consultants Inc but in Monday’s Council meeting, Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin said that this should have taken 6 to 12 months. Because of their experience with the Town’s bylaws, staff recommended that Meridian be given a sole-source contact for $30K to consider the zoning of rehabilitation locations as well as emergency centres.
There are mixed messages as to whether nearby residents and the school object to the idea of a drug rehabilitation centre in that location. No negative specifics were mentioned in the staff report presented at the Council meeting (see link below) or by councillors although Nicole Beatty was clear that she supports such a facility but not necessarily in this location.
When asked about the long delay (11 years) in completing the bylaw review, Planning manager Rob Franklin said that work had been done from 2011 through part of 2013 but was then paused because the Official Plan was not yet approved due to appeals to the OMB. Once it was approved, further delays were caused by a heavy work load in the planning department (not helped by under-staffing) – plus the Covid-19 situation. However, Suzanne said that Meridian – for whatever reason – had not met the terms of their contract so an RFP should be issued. Her motion was defeated 5-2 (Emily Chorley supported her).
Staff proposed an option to create an Interim Control By-law (ICBL) which would delay a decision for a year so that a review could be done (see staff report in Link for details). When asked how long was needed for a review, Rob was unable to provide a definitive answer but given the suggested use of the ICBL, Nicole Beatty suggested that a year seemed an acceptable time so moved that Meridian be given the contract and that results should come to Council by September 1, 2021. Her motion passed 6-1.
There’s no word on whether the building owners will wait that long.