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Future social services outside downtown receives pushback

A plan by Campbell River to start spreading social services like drug injection sites and soup kitchens outside the downtown has received considerable pushback.

Around two dozen people spoke during a three hour public hearing Wednesday night (June 29).

The proposed rezoning would see future substance abuse care and social care sites outside downtown and in specific areas like Ironwood, Campbellton and some portions of Willow Point. While existing sites would be grandfathered in the downtown, there would be no future locations there.

The city maintains the changes are meant to encourage redevelopment of the downtown core under its refreshing plan.

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Planner Cleo Corbett says the zoning “is not about people, it’s about uses,” suggesting crime, mental health issues and substance use are not influenced by property zoning. Corbett told council the issues have drawn “a lot of attention and emotion” but the zoning can’t address societal issues.

Corbett noted that before identifying specific areas, these services could be allowed “all across the city.”

But many business owners say problems with the safe injection site on Dogwood Street is enough without adding more to the area.

While being empathetic to vulnerable populations, some said they are being ignored by the city and don’t need the added stress and cost of dealing with social service clients.

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A number were also upset they were not notified about the potential rezoning. The city says it only requires a notice in the newspaper due to the number of people affected.

One resident says she’s “terrified” to let her children go downtown.

During the charged meeting, Acting Mayor Charlie Cornfield had to tell the audience a couple of times not to clap during the presentations.

City council will debate the proposed changes next Monday (July 11).

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