Sudbury city councillors pick downtown Energy Court for temporary injection site
By an 11-2 vote Tuesday evening, city council in Greater Sudbury approved the downtown Energy Court location to set up a temporary safe injection site. (Lyndsay Aelick/CTV News)
SUDBURY -- By an 11-2 vote Tuesday evening, city council in Greater Sudbury approved the downtown Energy Court location to set up a temporary safe injection site.
The site is one of two city-owned properties downtown that cleared all hurdles to act as a temporary site, as the search continues for a permanent location. The other site, the Elgin Street parking lot, would have reduced parking downtown.
Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland said it came down to which site would have less of an impact on the surrounding area.
“The Energy Court location is a space that has been used for decades by the more vulnerable members of our community," McCausland said.
"In fact, there was shelters there this entire past winter …Unless you happened to be in a building that has a bunch of stories downtown and you can see them, you would have never known they were there. And so in many ways, it much less impactful.”
Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan was opposed, arguing the court is on the outskirts of the downtown.
“It’s where can we put this site so it’s going to serve the people who actually need it and be there for the people who need it," Kirwan said.
"I would prefer to have the ambulances close by, the police close by, the fire close by and access to food and shelter.”
Although they disagree on location, both agree it has been a long time coming.
“We should have had this two years ago, but now we’re close to getting it,” said Kirwan.
“I wish we had this conversation, I wish we had this motion and this report a year agom, but at least it’s all moving," McCausland said. "It’s all moving forward and we’re trying to move forward as quickly as possible because days are lives.”
A report brought to council Tuesday said while senior governments need to approve the creation of an urgent care facility, they do not fund them.
“The city would have to fund this -- I don’t think there is any other choice," Kirwan said.
It will cost about $800,000 to set up trailers and other services on the court, he said, and roughly $1 million in annual operating costs.
Kirwan said city staff will prepare an outline of the projected operational costs and if council approves that, then the application will be sent in to the federal government.
He estimates it takes about six to eight weeks to get a response.
“So we really can’t start doing anything until we get the approval from the government to operate the temporary site," Kirwan said. "So we are a good two…two and a half months away at the earliest from having this up and running.”
In the meantime McCausland said staff have been directed to reach out to local businesses to secure trailers or a modular building that can be used once approval is in place.