CAMBRIDGE -- Cambridge city council has made a key decision on whether or not to set up a consumption and treatment services (CTS) site in the city.

A report was presented to councillors that outlined six different zoning options when it came to allowing a possible location for the facility.

During a Wednesday night meeting, councillors voted for the fifth option, which allowed them to build a CTS site anywhere in Cambridge.

The other options included:

  • A temporary use bylaw
  • Permitting a CTS site anywhere in the city except in core areas and a 500-metre buffer area around the core
  • Putting a site only in the core and buffer areas
  • Only having the site in buffer areas
  • Prohibiting a site from setting up anywhere in the city

Mayor Kathryn McGarry said the decision gives council "total control" over the location of the site.

"No site can be opened in a community without council's endorsement of a site," she said.

The mayor also said council now has the power to overturn a site application that doesn't work well and said they don't want a site in the downtown cores.

"This is consistent with what businesses are telling us and area residents are telling us," she said. "They did not want a potential site in a downtown core location."

City staff are looking at options a bit further away.

"Because Cambridge is geographically situated on a city that has three downtown cores, it means it's not a long walk from the centre of any of our cores to the outskirts," she said.

Discussions have been delayed for months and the proposed site has divided the community.

"I have always been in favour of a CTS site," Coun. Donna Reid said.

"It's useless, it's a waste," Cambridge resident Patricia Thomas said.

The report suggests the fifth option was preferred.

"So that gives councillors most control over where the CTS may be sited," Reid said.

Councillors heard from 17 delegates at the Wednesday night meeting.

"I would rather see money and efforts put into place that remove that addiction so that real results and solutions can be achieved with minimal damage to those suffering with addiction," said Adam Cooper.

Residents like Thomas also don't want the site at all, calling it a Band-Aid solution to addiction.

"Money has to go into funding for mental health to expedite and fast track to get people into addiction treatment," she said.

Jan Klotz of the Guelph Communit Health Centre was one delegate who was in favour of the CTS site and says the one in Guelph has reversed over 150 overdoses.

"I'm not arguing that CTS services replace rehabilitation services, they do not," she said. "What they do is support people where they're at so that future change is possible. We know these services are more important than ever right now."

Coun. Reid said the CTS site is needed to help save lives.

"A CTS is not a magic bullet, it's not an answer to everything," Reid said. "It's just one of the tools to harm reduction that we need to be involved in. You can't save someone from addiction if they're dead."

A separate team of city staff will prepare a list of possible locations for council to consider.