Re-zoning for Treatment Centres

In July 2020, an application was made to convert the old Medical centre at 316 King East (opposite the High School) for use as a live-in rehabilitation centre. Because of its proximity to the school and because zoning for this use was not clear, a decision was deferred until zoning could be reviewed.  Meridian Planning consultants were hired to do that review and they made a presentation to Council in July this year – see the link below.  Before the new by-law is drafted and presented to Council for approval, a Public meeting was scheduled for October 18.  Only two individuals asked questions at that meeting and both were concerned with the implication that the people using the centres were somehow not part of our community.  More details below.

Current Zoning in Cobourg

Use Residential Zones Institutional Zones Main Central Commercial Zones Rural Zone
Group Home Type 1
Group Home Type 2  
Emergency Care Establishment  

Recommended Zoning – abbreviated summary

Term/ Definition Use As-of-right Restrictions
Group Home Type 1
Supervised Group Living – up to 10 residents
Residential Yes None
Group Home Type 2
Supervised Group Living – more than 10 residents
Residential No – rezoning required None
Crisis Care Centre 1
Highly secure Shelter with protection Counselling or support with accommodation and meals
Plus some residential
Yes if zoned for institutional. If in residential would require re-zoning None
Crisis Care Centre 2
Supervised establishment providing shelter and support services for individuals who are homeless or need emotional, mental, social or physical support
Institutional No – rezoning required and in commercial or institutional areas Setback from schools, childcare centres and parks
Rehabilitation Treatment Centre
A facility providing secure, supervised specialized care, treatment and/or rehabilitation services on an in-patient or out-patient basis for individuals who are addicted to chemical substances and/or alcohol.
Institutional No – rezoning required and in commercial or institutional areas Setback from schools, childcare centres and parks

Note: As-of-right means permission is not required.

Medical Centre
Medical Centre

Questions from Councillors prompted clarification that it would be difficult for restrictions built into the zoning by-law to be useful.  It’s better to be addressed as part of re-zoning when individual case circumstances can be considered.

Councillors also asked for examples; e.g. where would Transition House fit?  And they suggested that names like Crisis Care Centre 2 be more descriptive.

See the link below for the full report.

According to Jessica Tijanic of Meridian, possible restrictive options are constrained by rulings of the Ontario Human Rights commission so the general recommendation is that for the type of rehabilitation Centre wanted at the Medical centre – and since approved at the old Woodlawn location – each application should be considered separately and re-zoned if approved.

The proposed bylaw would also cover establishments like Transition House and Cornerstone but any new by-law would not be applied retroactively – existing establishments and activities like Soup Kitchens would not be affected.  However, it’s not clear whether new approval is required if they move location.

Public Submissions

The first resident with concerns was Missy McLean who had a large number of comments and questions that raised philosophical issues such as why would people who use these facilities be considered not part of our community.  She said we cannot separate the buildings from the people using them. Her questions made it clear that she was especially concerned with homelessness for seniors.  Although the rehabilitation centre would not help homeless people, the proposed by-law would affect any planned shelter.  Acting Director of Planning, Rob Franklin, responded that “this is not a philosophical discussion, it’s responding to a direction from Council.”  Rob offered to discuss the issue further with Missy off-line.

The second resident was Rev. Neil Ellis of the Presbyterian Church at 200 King West.  He too objected to the implication that the people at these centres are separate from the community.  He also said that coming next is a mental health crisis exacerbated by the Pandemic.

Rob Franklin said that there was one written submission – from the Northumberland affordable housing committee.  They were concerned that some existing agencies would be affected (they won’t) and wondered who makes decisions.

The next step is to draft a by-Law incorporating the recommendations plus any changes resulting from the meeting.  This will hopefully be this year.


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Keith Oliver
22 October 2021 10:56 pm

When the conversation turns to treatment centres the assumption always seems to be that those being treated are hard core addict’s of the worst kind. Not true!

Yes the clients are in need of some kind of help, but the help can vary dramatically.

Homeless seniors who have rented all their lives and haven’t acquired a nest egg. People who feel isolated or left out and would benefit from a group home with others trying to get a fresh start. As we age and as technologies evolve faster and faster this becomes more and more difficult to do. Institutions like the Cornerstone Family Violence Centre (and what about a similar centre for men?).

Chemical and alcohol addiction? It is in the best interest of privately owned and operated facilities of all types to maintained a secure operation that fits in with the surrounding neighbourhood.

The decentralization of large treatment centres into the community was a revolutionary undertaken in both Canada and the US many decades ago in the belief that smaller communities could offer more personality appropriate and therefore more effective help. Some thing went wrong, probably financing, and that’s when people began sleeping on the street.

Living in Washington DC at the time I remember a photograph of a group of elected Representatives and Senators stepping over bodies lying on the sidewalk as they went to work at the Capital Building.

Think of someone in need of help as a member of your family instead of as an anonymous “other”. Congratulations to Missy McLean and the Rev Ellis for speaking out with such compassion.

Last edited 1 year ago by Keith Oliver
21 October 2021 9:33 am

Think this through. Go inside the building. The inside layout with total centre opening from second floor to first a significant drop is a suicide attempt risk. Not good for rehabilitation treatment or homeless.
It was designed for individual office space. Medical Dr’s all left this space.

Reply to  Dee
21 October 2021 12:44 pm

Would suicides be counted as successes or failures when reporting their rehabilitation rate?

Last edited 1 year ago by Dubious
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Dubious
21 October 2021 2:10 pm

Depends on the suicide, Dubious. My dad attempted to murder himself when I was 11. That was designated as a failure — by my dad. So my dad upped the stakes, and succeeded when I was 14. He succeeded in removing himself from all forms of life. Matter of fact, he did it a week after completing his tax forms. What a great taxpayer, eh? Most self-killers wouldn’t care less about the poor put upon taxpayers like yourself or the Cobourg Taxpayers Association. He more than paid his debt to the nation. So there ya go Dubious, now you know the answer to your dubious question. My advice to you — get a life and hang on to it with all your strength. If you need rehab, I’m sure there will be someone about to ridicule you and no one will care about your personal rehab rate.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
22 October 2021 10:31 am

Very sorry for your loss at a vulnerable stage of your life Wally. Suicide not only ends one life but also significantly effect those around them. A safe affordable location is best for rehabilitation.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Dee
22 October 2021 5:16 pm

The renovated Pink Palace will provide a safe and affordable rehab centre.

Reply to  Dubious
21 October 2021 4:41 pm

I’m sure that was an attempt at humour but you missed the mark … signficantly.

Reply to  Dubious
22 October 2021 9:28 am

Very disrespectful comment Dubious regarding people with mental health challenges

Reply to  Dee
21 October 2021 1:23 pm

Spaces can be renovated. Often the cost of renovation is much less than building new. On the other hand The Golden Plow and the housing at Elgin and D’Arcy are examples of building new. Maybe the old Golden Plow building could be used for drug rehab without too much renovation cost.

Reply to  Kevin
21 October 2021 2:42 pm

It certainly should be put to some use or other by the county.

A perfectly viable building (I’ve been in it numerous times of late) with years of use left in it scheduled to be torn down during a homelessness crisis.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Dee
21 October 2021 9:09 pm

My doctor practiced there. It is only a one story drop. It is not likely to kill anyone. Injure and maim of course, but outright death? Very unlikely.

The Cobourg Library on Chapel Street was redesigned into condos. Before it was a library, it was a Sunday School, as well as other church activities. It had a layout on the second floor that became the Art Gallery of Cobourg, and it was spacious. The same for redesigning the pink palace.

Deborah OConnor
20 October 2021 9:57 pm
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
20 October 2021 10:13 pm

Deborah, did you actually think about the baseless comments in your linked article?

There have been numerous studies from different jurisdictions that have examined the question of the effect of affordable housing on property value. The significant majority of this research shows no particular effect on property values.

It is absurd to suggest that other housing in a neighbourhood has no effect on property values. Consider that MPAC uses the value of neighbouring properties as a major factor to assess values.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ken Strauss
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
20 October 2021 11:41 pm

In what way does your comment contribute to the topic at hand; rezoning of the Pink Palace?
This discussion is is not about “affordable” housing. Also note that North Bay is a single tier (upper) municipality with a responsible for housing, unlike Cobourg, a lower tier municipality, with no responsibility for housing.

20 October 2021 1:17 pm

I wonder if the School Board has been consulted on this issue — I don’t remember reading anything from them (but I certainly could have missed it…) Playing Devil’s Advocate here, what if having a drug rehab. centre close to the high school could have a huge visual impact on a student or students who are being initially tempted into drug use — (kind of like the “scared straight scenario”). Perhaps I’m being terribly naive here, but I can’t imagine that there will be a bevy of people selling drugs on the grounds of a rehab. facility, — And maybe by providing a readily accessible, local treatment centre, it would get some of the obviously addicted homeless people hanging around the streets of downtown Cobourg off the streets and into the treatment that they need.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Scottie
21 October 2021 9:19 pm

One day during the 60s, I was chatting with a downtown retailer. Being 17 and all wise, I commented on the town drunk of the day. I very judgementally condemned him and said he was useless to society. The retailer, 20 years older than me, disagreed, and said that the town drunk was very useful to society, because as each mother walks past they can point him out to their children and say, “You don’t wanna to grow up and be like him.” Small town wisdom received.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
21 October 2021 9:38 pm

Pepsi Pete?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Informed
21 October 2021 11:56 pm

Nope. Earlier than him. Suds Lee.

Gordon Gilchrist
Reply to  Scottie
28 October 2021 11:24 am

Scottie, you raise what, for me, is a key question, namely, the safety of the kids and the obligation of the Kawartha Pine Ridge School Board to defend them. The letter of objection from the Board was, in my opinion, barely palpable; more one of supporting the creation of such a drug establishment in Cobourg, than criticism of the close location it is to the kids of two succeptable school communities. Across the street from one school and around the corner from another.
It is unpardonable for Trustees, whose first responsibility it is for the safety of their students, not to have raised a major and well researched objection to this location. There are enough used injection needles lying around various places in Cobourg without inviting more disposal sights next to two schools.

20 October 2021 12:44 pm

The rezoning of Type 2 (10+residents) homes to residential is a huge concern for me. I live in very close proximity to a large house presently tenanted by a family with mental health needs and when they are out of control ranting in an extremely obscene manner, it’s horrible to witness. I can’t imagine living 30 feet from a houseful of such needy residents, but now zoning could make it a possibility.

Reply to  Silverhairedsenior
20 October 2021 6:04 pm

you mean like living next to the Transition house ?

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Silverhairedsenior
22 October 2021 3:32 am


Have you not just made the case for having available to such individuals a treatment facility where they can go to find peace?

20 October 2021 10:13 am

“The BY Law will not be applied Retroactively ” That’s quite a statement .
Thank goodness this property owner that he applied long before the Woodlawn buyers ever did ,
otherwise some might think this statement was a Form of Protectionism and Exclusivity afforded the Woodlawn sellers & buyers .
There are all sorts of Rehab centers out there other than for those substance
and alcohol users and there are no No guarantees that the Woodlawn will only have patrons with $20 K in there pockets They will take business where ever they can get it . That idea was simple Fluffing to sway the neighbourhood . This building was at least design built for medical
and patient health care by one of the Former directors of our new Hospital .
The town has held this property at ransom and Taxes long enough
they even turned down affordable retirement a few yrs ago .

If nothing else Put those Drs. that want us to build them a new medical center
on Depalma Dr at Tax payer and town expense back to work here
the building is in great shape on the in side .

20 October 2021 10:08 am

Why do we need a consultant for this…whatever happened to “common sense”. Perhaps instead of Equity training, our Council & Staff should be enrolled in a class for common sense.

20 October 2021 9:57 am

No ‘re-hab’ centre should be this close to 2 schools…..C.C.I. and Gummow! Plain and simple!

Reply to  Ken
20 October 2021 10:03 am

Also no mention how this could impact future plans at the Brookside Youth Centre

Reply to  Ken
20 October 2021 6:01 pm

Then why would any one rezone the Woodlawn to a Rehab right across the road from a School Next to a Senior & Retirement center and next to a Beer and then Marijuana Shop The Mayor Promoted the Heck out of it in an Interview with Rob Washburn ????????????

20 October 2021 9:48 am

The Province and the County are effectively downloading more of their accountabilities and responsibilities on to the Municipalities. These ‘ideas’ are eventually going to be social (including enforcements) and economic costs borne by the Town of Cobourg. Are we ready? Somehow I don’t think so. What is wrong with punting on these ideas until benchmarks can be derived and budgets (socio/econo) can be anticipated. Lets get ahead of these types of these ideas (many others I’m sure coming down the pipe) instead of having these knee jerk reactions/one of solutions.

19 October 2021 6:56 pm

This certainly isnt the Town I was born and raised in and it certainly hasnt gotten better.

Reply to  Informed
20 October 2021 8:42 am

i am NOUGHT against rehab, BUT one on division St. & another on King?

Reply to  greengrass
29 October 2021 7:25 am

I find the objections to the number of and locations for rehabs quite interesting. At least the rehabs are not at Division and King. There are a number of new businesses there providing relieve of a different kind, if you know what I mean green grass. I would understand objections to these businesses. I suspect some of the new businesses will not last very long as there are so many of them. It would be great if the need for rehabs was low enough that some of the rehabs would not be needed.

19 October 2021 3:48 pm

The “Pink Palace” is several blocks east of where I live. There is one significant difference from Woodlawn: The rehab centre operator was the one who eventually applied for the zoning change and their type of operation and clientele were known….. not OHIP or “street”…. High end $20K
In the case of the “Pink Palace”, the owner is making the application and does not appear to be in the rehab business. He will likely be looking for a “rehab” tenant whose operation and “clientele” could be anything. Quite a risk for the Town to be taking on behalf of the nearby residents and school.
What safeguards are built in to the site’s zoning?
How is Council representing Cobourg’s residents in this case?

Like Clr Beatty, I am not opposed to this type of facility in Cobourg, just not in this location. Perhaps the property on DePalma Drive near the hospital that was recently rezoned for medical use would be an appropriate site.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan
Reply to  Bryan
21 October 2021 6:36 am

So where will these facilities be placed in an ideal world – which is obviously not Cobourg?

You start Bryan with another suggestion!

Reply to  ben
28 October 2021 11:28 am

It’s typical of any community, sure we need it, oh but not near me please.