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London group pens letter to Ontario ombudsman over planned supervised consumption facility

In December 2018, city council rezoned the York Street address of a former musical instrument shop to allow for a supervised consumption facility.
In December 2018, city council rezoned the York Street address of a former musical instrument shop to allow for a supervised consumption facility. Middlesex-London Health Unit/Regional HIV/AIDS Connection via City of London Planning and Environment Committee report

A resident group in London has penned a letter to the Ontario ombudsman asking the office to open an investigation into whether a planned supervised consumption facility at 446 York St. would endanger children.

The letter comes from the Midtown Ratepayers Association (MRA), a newly formed group of Londoners who live near 446 York St. and want to prevent the planned facility from opening.

The letter takes aim at London Mayor Ed Holder along with Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) CEO and medical officer of health Dr. Chris Mackie.

READ MORE: Appeals against planned York Street supervised consumption facility dismissed by tribunal

The letter comes less than a week after an appeal against the rezoning of 446 York St. was shot down by a provincial tribunal.

The rezoning was approved by city council in December 2018 and allows for a supervised consumption facility to be set up at the address that formerly housed John Bellone Musical Instruments.

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In a written decision, Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) member Blair Taylor ruled the zoning amendment was in line with existing municipal and provincial policies in that it would assist in addressing, rather than cause, “environmental or public health and safety concerns.”

Taylor added that the LPAT found a facility at the location would be a “positive step to bettering public health and reducing safety issues to the community at large.”

READ MORE: Alberta’s supervised consumption, overdose prevention sites have 100% overdose reversal rate, report says

The letter from the MRA hopes to see action from another provincial body. Addressed to Paul Dubé of the Ontario ombudsman’s children and youth unit, the letter argues 446 York St.’s proximity to Catholic Central High School and H.B. Beal Secondary School poses a risk to the students attending those schools. Both high schools are less than kilometre away from the address.

The letter cites the opinion of a Thames Valley District School Board superintendent who voiced concerns over 446 York St.’s proximity to H.B. Beal in May 2018.

Other works and news stories are cited in the letter, along with complaints that concerns are being ignored.

The letter questions, “Could it be that it is because ours is a blue-collar neighbourhood and we are less valued as citizens?”

READ: The Midtown Ratepayers Association’s full letter to the Ontario ombudsman

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Global News first learned of the letter on Tuesday. As of Monday morning, the Ontario ombudsman had not taken action with regard to the letter.

A spokesperson for the MLHU declined to comment on the matter.

Supervised consumption services review panel visits Calgary
Supervised consumption services review panel visits Calgary