Nanaimo councillors reaffirmed their position that supervised consumption sites must go through site-specific re-zoning before they can operate in the city.
At a council meeting on Monday, councillors gave the first two readings to a motion to remove supervised consumption sites from the city’s medical office zoning definition and repeal the city’s existing definition of a drug addiction treatment facility.
It would also mean all proposed supervised consumption sites would require site-specific re-zoning and councillors will have the ability to approve any re-zoning application following a public hearing. Councillors would also be able to attach conditions to the application.
The move comes less than a month after councillors rejected a proposed zoning bylaw amendment which would have allowed supervised consumption at any medical office and removed public hearing requirements.
According to a recent staff report, excluding supervised consumption sites from a new medical office zoning definition would give council a “greater level of oversight and accountability” for any potential supervised consumption sites. However, the decision could be seen as “stigmatizing” toward substance users, the report notes.
Meanwhile, removing the drug addiction treatment facility definition “creates clarity for health services allowed,” the report adds.
There was no discussion from councillors during Monday’s meeting, but Dale Lindsay, the city’s general manager of development services, told councillors that staff had been looking to remove the city’s definition of a drug treatment facility and replace it with more updated language.
“We think that this definition is no longer required,” he said. “We are recommending, and the bylaw will ultimately approve, a new definition for medical office and dental, and finally create a new definition for supervised consumption service, which is more consistent with federal acts.”
Lindsay also pointed out to councillors that the provincial government can establish an overdose-prevention site wherever and whenever it wants.
“I also think it is important to recognize that we continue to be under a provincial emergency health order and under that health order the province can establish an overdose prevention service at any time, at any location, without needing to comply with zoning,” he said.
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