Woodlawn Re-Purposing Explained

On Monday November 30, a public meeting was held to explain the re-zoning and re-purposing of the Woodlawn Inn as a drug and alcohol addiction re-habilitation Centre.  Ryan Guetter of Weston Consulting explained that Canadian Centre for Addictions is the new owner of the property and sees a need for their services in Cobourg.  They currently own and operate a similar facility in Port Hope.  But before the meeting got very far, three Councillors declared a conflict and dropped out of the meeting leaving a bare quorum of four.  Both Brian Darling and Emily Chorley said they owned properties within 120 metres and Aaron Burchat has done work at the related Port Hope facility.  Ryan made a presentation with details of what was planned (see link below).


Includes information supplied verbally

  • The proposed re-zoning would meet County and Town Official Plan requirements
  • The existing 18 rooms will house a maximum of 40 occupants/patrons (two or three per room) and administrative offices.   Usually there would be less than 40.
  • The facility anticipates a total of 12 staff members during daytime hours and 6 during overnight hours.
  • There are no in-out or day pass privileges – patrons stay on site the whole time.  They are dropped off and picked up and do not have a car.
  • Typical fee to patrons is $18K per month.  A typical patron stays 4 – 6 weeks.
  • It is not an emergency or transition House – homeless people could likely only afford the fee if paid by family or friends.
  • There is no Government funding
  • Covid restrictions would limit occupancy to one per room
  • A 6 foot fence will probably be added for privacy.
Public Meeting re Woodlawn re-zoning

Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin, Mayor John Henderson and Councillor Nicole Beatty asked a number of questions.  These included staff accreditation details, Covid concerns, is this only for Northumberland people (No), what is the difference with the application for 316 King (none – see link below) and is a risk assessment required (has never been done in last 35 years – would do if Council directed).  Planning Director Glenn McGlashon commented that reports have not yet been received back from the Police, the School board, the Fire Department and others.  Consultant Ryan Guetter provided limited answers but promised a detailed written response by the Christmas break.

The meeting had no citizens speaking in support and five against.  Four more made written submissions in advance of the meeting (two in support).  The response to many questions was that a detailed response would be given later.  Glenn will include the consultant’s responses in his report to Council – likely in the new year.

Summary of Verbal submissions

Answers by Ryan in brackets ( ).

Ken Strauss: What percentage of patrons would be local? (an estimate to be provided later)  How different is this to the Port Hope Facility? (Very similar).

Teresa May:  A risk assessment is paramount. Will patrons be “out and about”?  (No – always supervised – this has been successful in Port Hope.)

Marcia MacLeod: What value is it to Cobourg?  (Jobs, goods and services locally supplied, addiction treatment.)  Why downtown core and not in countryside? (Not answered.)

Denis Gagne: How high is the fence? (6 feet)  What is its real purpose? (Privacy)  What is fence location and type?  (location TBD and would be similar to typically used locally)  Any Government affiliation? (No)  Any Govt overview? (As with accreditation concerns – will answer later).  What is commencement date? (When project has been approved – likely summer 2021).  Is there any Government funding? (No and not expected).

Jennifer: Will they pay taxes? (Yes – as a commercial establishment)

Written Submissions

  • Dilys Robertson: Concerned about Community Safety,  Drain on Emergency Services, Risk to local residents, Legislative Oversight, and Corporate structure of Owner.  She has 10 questions based on these concerns. Download her submission
  • Rick Lovekin: Wants a risk assessment citing the experience with Transition House. Download his submission 
  • David Wright:   Fully supports the notion of a treatment facility opening in Cobourg. Owns a home under a kilometre from the proposed site, Download his submission
  • Ian McKlevey:  Supports the idea. If the town of Cobourg opposes a treatment facility, they are denying people the opportunity to make that positive change in their lives.  Download his submission

Glenn said that the next step would be for his department to prepare a report based on inputs from this meeting, from Weston Consulting responses and from reports by Police, etc.  This would then come to Council probably in 2021.


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10 December 2020 6:36 pm

And, there is currently not a single “fine dining” establishment in Cobourg.

9 December 2020 2:37 pm

Sounds like a small group of contributors on this site should have pooled their financial resources and purchased the Woodlawn for themselves. They could have repurposed it in any manner of their choosing. Lets not forget it was for sale for approx. $2.5 million for years and any other legitimate investor could have snatched it up for his/her own purpose(s). Stirring people up about break and enters, massive drains on protection services and the dangers because of the proximity to the beer store, LCBO, school, church and/or the drug store is just a bunch of hogwash. You should be more concerned about the addicts who are not in recovery but in our community, than those who are paying dearly in an attempt to regain some control over their lives.

4 December 2020 4:42 pm

If the buyers of the building have already purchased the Woodlawn, the fix is probably in already for the rehab zoning

Reply to  cornbread
6 December 2020 9:32 am

There is construction work happening at the Woodlawn. Something is being ‘fixed’/renovated or at least demolition is being done. Either way there are some temporary construction jobs.

Francine Nesbitt
4 December 2020 10:00 am

The idea has value. However, there are other properties available away from the residential and commercial center of town that would satisfy the buyer’s needs. A wall of nature surrounding “rehab-itants” would be so much better than a fence.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Francine Nesbitt
4 December 2020 12:28 pm

Well Francine it has been proposed for the Woodlawn – fence or not. Various people have stated about it being a beautiful heritage building etc.etc. rather than just saying they don’t want it period.

Reply to  Francine Nesbitt
4 December 2020 1:08 pm

Francine. you are absolutely right ‘a wall of nature’ is what is needed!!

Liz Taylor
4 December 2020 9:49 am

A rehab centre such as proposed would not disrupt the community I feel. Unsaid is the fact that Cobourg has a population of drug addicted that have been very visible throughout downtown and surrounding streets. Lately, perhaps it was the police patrols – word spreads, but there have been fewer wandering addicts around my immediate area where before there were many more. New services? A place they don’t have to vacate during the day?

Past halfway houses, youth houses have had mixed results on neighbourhoods. One had few oversight rules apparently as there were many break ins to vehicles in the night hours which continued for some length of time until the “perp”, not to be corny, was apprehended. An occupant of the youth house.

Providing we aren’t given a switcheroo as Ken states is possible the rehab would be offering needed services. But what about the addicts here? People for years have attended AA saying I have a problem and gone on to be free of their addiction offering a power of example for others struggling. NARC-ANON offers programs of similar ilk but seems to have less ability in recovery or perhaps the person addicted has different needs? Until then that person can easily pose a danger to the community and we all have responsibility to choose except for the few – unable to resist the demon they released through drug use. What do we do with them?

Reply to  Liz Taylor
5 December 2020 9:19 am

You can’t make them go if they don’t want to or Court order which is seldom
They are not incarcerated at these places so who or what will make them stay .
If they personally paid or had to work off the $20 to $25,000.– stay then they might feel obligated to make something of them seles . Personally providing another social service at the Towns County and local resident expense for a For Profit operator is not Correct

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Sandpiper
5 December 2020 12:11 pm

Hi Sandpiper – didn’t suggest we make them go – just compared to other self recovery programs – success/failure rate. No point in making them go unless a spark lights the addict will remain addicted no matter what program they go to. But what is to be done about them?

3 December 2020 4:47 pm

I live not 100 feet from this place. Add that to the problems on John, James St etc and this section of town and we have addicts all around me. This place certainly won’t help out residents that live here. The cost per month is NOT for our towns problem people. Besides that ruins such a nice place to look at. No.. totally against this

Elizabeth Greaves
Reply to  Jade
3 December 2020 7:24 pm

Jade – i also am a very close neighbour. I am not picking at YOU for your concerns. But I do take a different view. I am aware of the drug and alcohol problems in the area. I know as well, that they exist in affluent areas of our community. I care about both.
From my point of view, the proposed service would add no risk. However, it in NO way addresses the very real issues we need to deal with in Cobourg, in my opinion – and my experience working in the field.
My response has always been – let us define the issue, possible solutions – and how can we work together to effect a positive outcome for all.

Reply to  Elizabeth Greaves
5 December 2020 9:21 am

OH Do another Study you mean
then this should have been done long before now

Elizabeth Greaves
Reply to  Sandpiper
5 December 2020 9:56 am

I did not suggest a study. The issues have been well documented in other jurisdictions. I would prefer to see our community working together on the housing, treatment, supports needed for those who can not afford private rehabilitation.

Elizabeth Greaves
3 December 2020 10:23 am

I live a block west of the Woodlawn site and have no concerns about the potential proximity to a rehab centre. I would strongly object to a 6 foot wall, if that were to block the building at the front.
There is a lovely back yard, where residents can enjoy privacy.
As there is great need to harm reduction and/or addictions treatment in our community, I would strongly advocate for a public, rather than a private facility. The cost prohibits far too many from receiving the treatment they need – and want.
Having worked in similar fields, I remember hearing from more than one recovering addict about a reoccurring problem they faced: “after drying out, cleaning up, beginning a chapter in my life, I was sent back to the very life and community that had driven me to addiction”. The point I took from this was – this is a community problem, and I would prefer to see it dealt with in our community, for our community members. Then we could support them in the transition to their new lives.

David Broughton
3 December 2020 8:53 am

I will soon be moving to Cobourg to with a half-block of the Woodlawn. I currently live in Port Hope, where there was a similar discussion in 2014 about the same company converting a Walton Street mansion to a treatment facility.

To the best of my knowledge, since the facility opened in Port Hope, there have been no newsworthy negative impacts on the town. I recently checked with some residents who live close to Dorset Street, and the comment was “You would hardly know they were there”.

So they would provide treatment for those in need, pay taxes, provide employment, maintain an historic building, and keep a low profile.

While I am not knowledgeable enough to vouch for the efficacy of their treatments, I have no concerns about them being my neighbor.

Reply to  David Broughton
3 December 2020 1:32 pm

Check again and compare the locations Dorset st is well fenced and hedged an the rear of the property is a clif side over looking the lake rather peaceful in fact Not a main through fare and backing on to a Senior retirement village on the other . as far as Taxes go we just looked up the reported MPAC sale price and the property is accessed at $606,000.00 on a recent sales price in Nov 2020 at well over $2 Million I bet your taxes aren’t that low on a Market value basis ??

3 December 2020 8:50 am

There were very Vague responses to some serious questions the other night
I have asked a lot of questions since I became aware of the Woodlawn Rezoning app. from people that were employed & managed the Trafalgar Treatment Centers that operated at the Victoria Inn on Rice Lake over the Last 5 yrs I also contacted the De Nova Treatment Centers
as well which were mainly a Union sponsored group
Victoria Inn was sold in July this yr and relocated back to the GTA Region where the clients came from . Due to the Govt. Covid Guide lines that started in March and patients .were no longer being sent here
They also operated a day type clinic and reeducation center in Port Hope These were accredited facilities .
I was surprised to learn that Out of 5 yrs operating in Northumberland with Local Authority ,County knowledge as well as marketing to the Regional Medical and support groups they only had 2 or 3 locals pass through their doors in all that time . I was also shocked to learn that the basic fees 5 yrs ago were around $18, 000.- per month and much higher now more in the
$22 to $24 ,000. – per stay. The Victoria Inn is much smaller facility and they ran the rums on a Buddy sys, averaging 3 to 4 patrons to a suite this would push the Woodlawn into the area of
60 plus as there are no Governing factors and occupancy controls only Income goals $$

Reply to  Sandpiper
9 December 2020 9:31 am

I live in Gore’s Landing. Most people around here had no idea that there was a rehab in the ex-Victoria Inn. There was no sign. Very expensive. A small group would occasionally go for a walk to the municipal dock. Never a problem.

beach lover
3 December 2020 8:48 am

Shrouding a beautiful historic building behind a six foot fence is a very poor planning and design idea. It’s also VERY poor for pedestrians. Walkable cities make for happier, healthier citizens. They also minimize the need to use a car, which can reduce greenhouse gasses emissions. This street is a major entrance to Cobourg’s downtown and waterfront and should have an attractive DIVERSITY of retail, social and recreational elements that contribute to Walk Appeal.

A generous tree canopy, benches, open sight-lines, other pedestrians all make a community walkable — a six foot tall fence flanking a long stretch of a major city block is not one of them. Sacrificing this cornerstone property is a step backward in making Cobourg a walkable community.

No objection to a treatment facility in town but surely there are other locations available than this attractive heritage property.

Reply to  beach lover
3 December 2020 10:06 am

It would be nice to see this building put to good use instead of sitting empty. If you don’t like walking past it then walk a different route. I don’t think it is going to have a huge impact on pedestrians and the town will still be very walkable.

beach lover
Reply to  marilyn
3 December 2020 1:24 pm

Walkable neighbourhoods have a centre and plan behind their design. Complete streets allow businesses to flourish and encourage pedestrians for shopping, transit and other social interactions. It’s defeatist to simply do nothing and lose something of value because no effort has been made to find an alternative use consistent with Cobourg’s long-term vision.

Reply to  beach lover
3 December 2020 1:24 pm

Its a heritage building as are the buildings on either side
I there fore suggest that the same rules apply that apply to Victoria College
a View line of 300 ft from each corner of the property be maintained up and down the street
if the need to carol these people exists the fence them in at the back

Reply to  beach lover
3 December 2020 9:39 pm

I fully agree with your entire comment “Shrouding a beautiful historic building behind a six foot fence is a very poor planning and design…”
By my measurement on Google Map, the front door is 44 meters from the sidewalk. A 6-ft. fence halfway back at 22 meters would be bad enough, but certainly not at or near the front of the property.

Ken Strauss
2 December 2020 6:08 pm

Questions regarding type of clientele expected, number and training of staff, supervision during treatment, corporate structure of Canadian Centre for Addictions and government affiliation are all interesting but completely irrelevant. Once the zoning is changed to allow an addiction treatment centre all of these can change without further consultation with the town or the clinic’s neighbours.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
2 December 2020 11:53 pm

Your point? You seem to have a real NIMBY attitude going on. What a surprise, NOT.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
3 December 2020 8:35 am

Deborah, I’m glad that you are not surprised. Most consider consistency and adhering to principles to be good attributes. I live several miles from the Woodlawn so it isn’t exactly in my “backyard”. I want the best for Cobourg residents and the proposed clinic is not for locals. Do you actually think that there are enough wealthy Cobourg addicts to keep 40 beds filled at $20K/month?

beach lover
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
3 December 2020 9:13 am

Dismissing opponents as NIMBYists ignores the conversation we should be having about preserving things residents of Cobourg value including heritage buildings, the health of our community walkability and good urban design. It will be a huge loss to see this beautiful building buried behind a private, six foot tall fence.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  beach lover
4 December 2020 2:47 am

So don’t build a six foot fence. Easy. It’s not needed anyway. The people who will be receiving treatment there aren’t prisoners trying to escape, they’re just people with problems trying hard to fix them. How about we support and cheer them on?

Diana Storen
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
4 December 2020 5:01 pm

I agree with Deborah.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
9 December 2020 9:37 am

Yes, there is no fence around the ex-Victoria Inn, a beautiful heritage building working as a rehab centre until recently. Not a single problem; most residents here didn’t even know it was a rehab.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
9 December 2020 11:15 am

That’s the right perspective Deb. At $20-25 grand per month, the clients are likely to be executives, managers. professionals, etc. Human Resources of all banks and many financial insts have policies covering their employees, and in some cases, the policy covers the employee’s immediate family.

These clients are highly unlikely to break and enter, to assault people on the street, to associate with street people, or indulge in antisocial behaviour.

It will bring professional people to Cobourg to service the clients. They will reside in Cobourg or area. (win). The service will require clean linens daily, foodstuffs, delivery of flowers, etc. purchased from Cobourg businesses. (win). Renovations employing local trades people. (win). Building infrastructure maintenance over the years will be served locally. (win). The rehab will purchase local electricity and pay taxes. (win).

Nothing off putting about a fence around the sides and back. There are stately homes on College St and Chapel with fences in front of them that enhance the value of the homes, and the street remains walkable, very walkable. A well designed wrought iron fence with elegant gate can still provide a walkby view of the property and enhance the stateliness of the building. It would also prevent pedestrian riff raff from walking onto the property to have a closer look at the garden.

Liz Taylor
Reply to  Ken Strauss
3 December 2020 1:16 pm

You raise some very good points Ken. The presenting of a responsible drug treatment centre to the public and its establishment is one thing however should all the criteria rules change then what attendant problems would neighbours face? Viewing tent encampments and hearing their stories many have slipped back to repeated drug use which brings about the problems of community safety if the rules are not what is presented but much more liberal.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Liz Taylor
10 December 2020 11:41 pm

LIZ: Please share with us the evidence you have surely collected that proves residents of “tent encampments…have slipped back to repeated drug use”. I’m looking forward to hearing more from your sources.