Suggested amend­ment would af­fect ap­pli­ca­tions for safe con­sump­tion lo­ca­tion

Mu­nic­i­pal Plan­ning Com­mis­sion moves to make ap­pli­ca­tions for su­per­vised con­sump­tion sites more trans­par­ent

Medicine Hat News - - FRONT PAGE - GIL­LIAN SLADE [email protected]­hat­news.com Twit­ter: MHNGil­lianSlade

A land-use by­law amend­ment with po­ten­tial to af­fect the lo­ca­tion of a fu­ture su­per­vised con­sump­tion site has been sent to coun­cil by the mu­nic­i­pal plan­ning com­mis­sion.

A pro­posed amend­ment to By­law No. 31 would add a su­per­vised con­sump­tion def­i­ni­tion that would make the pub­lic aware of a de­vel­op­ment pro­posal.

“Right now we don’t have a for­mal def­i­ni­tion for these sites. We look at what the next clos­est use is and so we don’t have a for­mal de­vel­op­ment process for how we con­sider them as a health fa­cil­ity right now,” said Kent Sny­der, gen­eral man­ager of plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment.

“By defin­ing them and say­ing that they need a per­mit, which is what this does, kicks it into a for­mal re­view and ap­proval process where we have the abil­ity to add con­di­tions to grant ap­proval or not grant ap­proval if it is not the right lo­ca­tion be­cause of po­ten­tial neg­a­tive im­pacts.”

This re­quire­ment also pub­lishes the re­quest for the pub­lic to be made aware and pro­vide pos­si­ble in­put, said Sny­der.

“The in­ten­tion to­day is to have an arena for peo­ple who have con­cerns to voice them ap­pro­pri­ately,” said Coun. Dar­ren Hirsch.

In­stead of us­ing in­for­mal choices for voic­ing those con­cerns, this would fall into the cat­e­gory of any other de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion within the city, said Hirsch.

Sny­der said he could not re­veal whether an ap­pli­ca­tion for a de­vel­op­ment per­mit has been is­sued for safe con­sump­tion. Cur­rent ap­pli­ca­tions would not be af­fected by any change to this by­law, only ap­pli­ca­tions re­ceived af­ter coun­cil passes the by­law amend­ment will be im­pacted.

The amend­ment would also give the pub­lic an op­por­tu­nity to ap­peal a de­ci­sion on a de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion but the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments can over ride that, said Coun. Brian Varga, who chaired the meet­ing.

“We are kind of in a hard spot. We are try­ing to help pre­vent some of it down the road but in the end it might not mat­ter what we put into our by­laws,” said Varga.

Last year HIV Com­mu­nity Link, Cal­gary re­ceived $900,000 in startup fund­ing from Al­berta Health to es­tab­lish a site in Medicine Hat and will re­ceive about $1.9 mil­lion an­nu­ally for op­er­at­ing costs.

An as­sess­ment de­ter­mined the best place to es­tab­lish a site would be in the down­town or N. Rail­way area where those ex­pected to use the fa­cil­ity gen­er­ally fre­quent.

A build­ing was un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for su­per­vised con­sump­tion on Maple Av­enue but the own­ers ul­ti­mately de­clined to lease to the or­ga­ni­za­tion as a re­sult of neg­a­tive pub­lic feed­back. HIV Com­mu­nity Link has said it is still work­ing on plans for Medicine Hat and will make an an­nounce­ment soon.

NEWS PHOTO GIL­LIAN SLADE

Coun. Brian Varga and Coun. Dar­ren Hirsch talk with Kent Sny­der, gen­eral man­ager for plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment, af­ter a com­mit­tee meet­ing on Wednes­day re­gard­ing a land-use by­law amend­ment to es­tab­lish a reg­u­la­tory frame­work for a su­per­vised con­sump­tion site.

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