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Kitchener officials change course on SCS location debate

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Ward 10 city councillor Sarah Marsh released a letter Sunday, stating they will support the region's preferred location on Duke Street West
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Proposed Kitchener CTS site 2
The proposed CTS site for Kitchener at 150 Duke Street West. Ben Eppel/KitchenerToday

Call it a change of heart, of sorts.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Ward 10 city councillor Sarah Marsh flipped the script Sunday afternoon, by releasing a statement that they will support the region's recommendation to put a Consumption and Treatment Services site on Duke Street West in Kitchener.

In the letter (which you can read in full below), they state there is no political will to pursue Kitchener's preferred site on Victoria Street.

Despite having issues with its proximity to sensitive uses and residential neighbourhoods, they state a worse outcome is ending up with no location at all.

Marsh will withdraw her motion during a special Kitchener council meeting Monday afternoon and will instead introduce a motion to support the Duke site.

If approved, the region can then proceed with an application to the province after ratifying the matter as early as Wednesday.

FULL STATEMENT FROM MAYOR BERRY VRBANOVIC AND WARD 10 COUNCILLOR SARAH MARSH TO SUPPORT CTS AT 150 DUKE STREET WEST

"The City of Kitchener has a long history of taking a leadership role to support the provision of important social services to residents of our region. From the very beginning, our city council has been the only local municipality to actively support the placement of a consumption and treatment services site within our community.

The city has participated in the Region of Waterloo’s site selection process in good faith and has been advised on several occasions by Regional staff that all three Kitchener sites under consideration by the Region (115 Water St N, 150 Duke St W, and 105 Victoria St N) are viable.

Throughout that process we have tried to work with the Region and articulate our concerns about the Duke Street site in terms of its close proximity to sensitive uses and residential neighbourhoods. The Region was aware of our concerns well before last week and we were disappointed that those concerns were not taken fully into account.

We continue to believe there is a way to build a suitable consumption and treatment service on the Victoria Street location in a timely manner, but that would require a committed and engaged partner.

Since the vote at Regional committee it has become clear that there is not a political will at the Region to pursue a creative and collaborative solution for the Victoria Street property.

While we continue to have significant concerns with the Duke Street site, we know that a worse outcome than choosing this site, is ending up with no site at all.

For that reason, I (Councillor Marsh) will be withdrawing my notice of motion to support an application for 105 Victoria St N.

In its place, I will introduce a motion at the special council on Monday afternoon to support an application for a consumption and treatment services site at the Region’s preferred Duke Street site.

If approved, this would allow the Region to proceed immediately with an application to the Province after Regional Council ratifies the matter this Wednesday.

The Region has stated that it will work with local municipalities to mitigate the impacts of these sites. We will look to the Region to make good on this promise and commit considerable resources and attention to this work given the challenges that we anticipate will result from the selection of Duke St W as a consumption and treatment services site.

The decision to change course was informed to a large extent by input and discussions we had throughout the day on Saturday with multiple informed and engaged stakeholders, including Jenny Kirby and Rev. Preston Parsons. We are grateful for the time they took to meet with us and share from their knowledge and insights. We take great encouragement from the many voices we have heard on this issue that have spoken strongly in support of taking action to once again demonstrate that Kitchener is a caring and compassionate community."




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