September 27, 2012
I have heard from many people that are very strongly opposed to the relocation of a Halton Region Public Health clinic in the city. This opposition is based on the characterization of the clinic as a needle exchange program and that the community does not want the type of people that might use this service in their neighbourhood.
The clinic that will be moving from Lakeside Plaza to Fairview Street has been in operation since 1999. The clinic provides a number of public health services: oral (dental) health, stop smoking clinics, and sexual health services. The needle exchange program is only part of the sexual health services provided at all Regional Public Health clinics.
As the former Councillor for Ward 5, the Public Health Clinic at Lakeside Plaza was in my Ward. I did not hear a single complaint about the clinic and it was not a safety concern. The existing shops were canvassed regarding the clinic and did not have a single complaint. As Mayor, I have never received any comments or complaints about the clinic. There is no substantive information that suggests that there would be any community safety issues by relocating the clinic to a new location in the city. It is very difficult for me to understand how this important service is now a risk to the residents adjacent to Fairview Street.
The neighbourhood also raised concerns about the notice the community received about this relocation. Given the nature of the clinic, the applicable zoning on Fairview Street and the fact that this clinic has been in operation for thirteen years without complaint there was no requirement to conduct a public consultation process.
At the neighbourhood meeting at the Harvest Table Restaurant, it was obvious to me that the public was very upset and I indicated that a second meeting was required. This meeting is now scheduled for October 2 at Gary Allan Highschool, 6-8 p.m. (see attached). Recent calls now indicate dissatisfaction with the meeting format. I believe that the issue is with the decision to relocate the clinic. This will be an appropriate way for residents to get accurate information about the clinic and not to be intimidated to ask questions.
I invite all residents to come to the public meeting and ask the questions they feel must be answered. I will be in attendance and am fully prepared to listen.
As Mayor of Burlington and a member of Halton Regional Council, I see this clinic as an important service to our community. We strive to be an inclusive and accessible community and need to assure that required services are available and accessible to all residents.
You can hear more in this issue in an Interview with Scott Thompson, CHML on September 25, 2012