Agreement is a Community Win
Legally enforceable agreement will guide Boyle Street Community Services’ development.
It was like a high stakes courtroom drama.
Minutes before a hearing on May 31st, 2023 to review the relocation of Boyle Street Community Services (BSCS) to McCauley, community stakeholders and BSCS signed an agreement outlining conditions for operating the okimaw peyesew kamik (King Thunderbird Centre).
Since BSCS’s proposed relocation to the corner of 107A Avenue and 101st Street was announced in December of 2021, a loose coalition of community stakeholders has opposed the move. These included the Chinatown and Area Business Association (CABA), Chinese Benevolent Association of Edmonton (CBA), McCauley residents, and parents of students attending Victoria School.
According to McCauley resident Anna Bubel, “Resistance and persistence allowed us to hammer out a deal. Boyle Street promises not to operate a drop-in or safe injection site at that site. That’s a win.”
BSCS’s Executive Director, Jordan Reiniger, agrees it’s a win-win.
“We are excited that we were able to agree with the community to conditions on this iteration of our development permit application for okimaw peyesew kamik (King Thunderbird Centre). These conditions clarify our intended uses under this development permit, and our commitment to apply for a new development permit for any changes to how we would use the building in the future. We believe the okimaw peyesew kamik will be an important part of the solution to many of the challenges community members from all walks of life are facing.
“We hope this agreement with the community begins a new chapter of collaboration as we work together to ensure a better future for everyone in the neighbourhood.”
Unfortunately, no none from the CABA or CBA was available for comment by the time of the deadline for this issue of the paper.
Michelle Patterson Nipp has an eight-year-old son attending Victoria School. She, along with two students from the school, presented their concerns to the SDAB (Subdivision and Development Appeal Board) hearing.
“The over-concentration of services near Victoria School has led to an increasing number of unsafe interactions for students. That’s why members of the school community came together as the Victoria School Parent Coalition and worked with other local groups to appeal the development.
“We’re relieved that the SDAB ruled in our favour and that the conditions of their recently approved development permit prevent Boyle Street from operating a drop-in.”
Last November, the SDAB overturned the issuing of a development permit to BSCS. The agency revised its plans and resubmitted them to the City. When a new development permit was issued to BSCS in January of 2023, community stakeholders again appealed the decision to the SDAB.
With the second appeal to the SDAB pending, BSCS and community stakeholders signed a legally enforceable agreement that outlines conditions that will guide BSCS’s development.
The SDAB set a legal precedent in its decision by linking the issuing of a development permit to the agreement on conditions. Unlike Good Neighbourhood Agreements, this deal with BSCS is legally enforceable because the agreement has been integrated into the SDAB decision.
Phil O’Hara is a long-time McCauley resident. He was part of the loose coalition of community stakeholders opposing BSCS’s relocation to McCauley.