Chilliwack Council Approve Overdose Prevention Site Zoning Rules, Approve Wine Sales at Superstore

Chilliwack – Chilliwack Council at their February 16 meeting had two major recommendations to review.

Council agenda is here.

The first is one that consumers have requested for years.

The proposal was to rezone a portion of the subject property from the CSM Zone to the C7 Zone to facilitate liquor sales within the existing commercial building. The purpose of this application is to allow for a 92m2 “Wine on Shelf sales area under a Special Wine Store (SWS) License in conjunction with ‘the existing Real Canadian Superstore.

This was passed unanimously.

The other will raise concerns from anti prevention site critics.

In short, the potential for a safe injection site, needle exchange and detox. This has been in flux for quite some time.

This is about zoning and not a specific location.

OPS or overdose prevention sites are nothing new to Vancouver, Surrey,Maple Ridge and Abbotsford. Many in the Chilliwack recovery community have lobbied for this.

From the agenda: Recommendation that “Zoning Bylaw Amendment Bylaw 2021, No. 5046”, a proposed text amendment to Sections 2, 5 and 9 and to create a new P7 (Specialized Medical Service) Zone, be adopted.

In addition, in response to Council direction on December 1, 2020 a new zone and associated text amendments have been prepared to address specialized medical services including, but not limited to, overdose prevention sites, detoxification centers and needle distribution/return facilities, to allow for the appropriate regulation of these uses.

The draft P7 (Specialized Medical Service) Zone includes the following key features: Principal uses limited to Medical Facility and Medical Clinic with Specialized Medical Service uses permitted as an ancillary use only.

Ancillary is “providing necessary support to the primary activities or operation of an organization, institution, industry, or system.”

A separation distance requirement mandating that a Specialized Medical Service use be a minimum of 300m from the following:

a school, community centre, sports field, park, or playground

a supportive housing facility or facility that serves vulnerable youth

another premises where a Specialized Medical Service is permitted.

The utilization of buffering requirements will limit the land available for this type of use especially in locations which have numerous parks, schools and supportive housing facilities^ such as in the-Downtown Chilliwack neighbourhood.

Should an applicant wish to pursue a location which does not meet the minimum buffering requirement, a Development Variance Permit (DVP)application will be required at time of rezoning to evaluate the suitability of ‘the location in reference to the applicable community amenity/service.”

Chilliwack Overdose Prevention Society commented to FVN ; we work in the modular housing programs here in Chilliwack and we are writing this email in support of the new zoning bylaws P7 for safe consumption sites.

 Our history is on Vancouver’s downtown east side and have years of experience with the homeless population, Mental Health issues and harm reduction. Chilliwack is not the DTES, but our community is growing, and the problems are growing. Having a safe consumption site for people to go and use substances under supervision in a safe environment opens doors for dialogue, and to start the building blocks for change. So many of our folk have mental health issues and “fall through the cracks” having a safe space for outreach teams and mental health nurses, to go and connect with these individuals. 

Having a consumption site in our community would help mitigate the cycle of being moved along from spot to spot, from business front to business front, giving people a place to go. The safe consumption site would also provide peer paid employment for anyone wanting to work, from syringe recovery found in parks, school yards and sidewalks to public speaking and education surrounding the dangers of party drugs and sharing needles. Safe consumption could be a positive opportunity for our community, We believe it should be given a chance.

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