In July 2020, Council was asked to approve the use of the (mostly vacant) Medical building at 316 King Street East (opposite the High school) as a rehabilitation centre for patients with drug or alcohol problems. There was a lot of concern expressed by councillors and the public due to proximity to the school so the issue was deferred pending a study of zoning of such facilities (see link below). A contract was awarded to Meridian Planning Consultants to report on this subject and their report was presented to Council at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting. Their basic conclusion was that such a use should be possible but subject to case by case decisions which would include collecting public input.
Although the study result would be included in a comprehensive zoning by-law review, zoning of rehabilitation centres was separated out so it could be managed separately. Council directed staff to implement the recommendations in the upcoming revised zoning bylaw, survey the public (with Engage Cobourg), hold a public meeting and then bring the final draft zoning bylaw to Council on 6 December 2021.
The study covered group homes and other similar uses (see the link below for the consultant’s presentation) but here is a summary as it concerns rehabilitation centres:
- Some rules are not allowed – these include:
- Limiting the number of rehabilitation centres
- Specifying distance between facilities
- Basing it on the number of people in the facility although space per person may be specified
- Rehabilitation centres should only be allowed in areas zoned institutional or commercial – not residential.
- But approval should not be “As-of-Right” – instead each application should require a rezoning application and conditions applied for each individual case. This would allow the specification of setbacks (a distance) from (e.g.) schools.
The next step is to prepare a draft bylaw, obtain public input re provisions for rehabilitation centres, make any modifications required and then get approval from Council. No doubt the public input on this general Zoning bylaw will be focused on the proposed rehabilitation centre at 316 King East.
When asked for more specifics about schedule, Planning Manager Rob Franklin said that the comprehensive Zoning Bylaw review was behind schedule but that it should be before committees in September/October and ready for Council approval as required in December.