A recent appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to establish a Scientology-based drug and rehabilitation facility on Milburough Line has been denied.
The provincial ruling upheld a decision made by the Town of Milton’s committee of adjustment to deny the application of Social Betterment Properties International (SBPI), to set up a Narconon treatment facility at 7651 Milburough Line. If approved, the facility would have seen up to 10 people at a time receive addiction treatment using “drug replacement therapy” favoured by scientologists, including detoxifying sauna sessions and high doses of vitamins.
“The decision had nothing to do with the validity of the service or the need for it. It was strictly on planning grounds, as it should be,” said Ward 3 Councillor Cindy Lunau, whose ward includes the Milburough Line address.
The decision was, according to the OMB case file, based on the definition of what constitutes a “group home type 2.” The bylaw states this type of facility is to be “licensed, approved or supervised, or funded by the province of Ontario.” It didn’t meet any of these criteria.
An “expert witness” and registered professional planner retained by SBPI, Colin Chung, told the hearing that provincial oversight only applies to traditional treatment and rehabilitation programs and the Narconon program doesn’t fall under that category.
Multiple attempts to reach SBPI and Narconon were unsuccessful.
According to the case file, three other planners testified in opposition, including Town planner Angela Janzen, who argued the municipality doesn’t have the expertise to deal with individual, private group home programs.
Another factor in the OMB’s decision included the appropriateness of the location. Barbara Koopmans, planning director for the Town, told the Champion since that area of Milburough Line is primarily agricultural, it wouldn’t be properly supported by essential services such as municipal water or sanitation.
William Caldwell, a resident adjacent to the subject site, appeared before the OMB addressing similar concerns, including emergency vehicles being able to reach the site quickly, according to the OMB report.
Lunau said residents such as Caldwell deserved a lot of credit for coming together with reasoned and rational arguments such as this.
“It’s not just a NIMBY (not in my backyard) question. It’s truly what is appropriate for the neighbourhood.”
Conservation Halton also commented that the site would be susceptible to flooding.
To top it off, all of these issues were contrary to the Provincial Policy Statement and the Greenbelt Plan.
Narconon’s head office is located in Los Angeles, California. The company has more than 100 locations in more than 30 different countries. According to the Toronto Star, it has been the subject of lawsuits in the United States, filed by the families of three Narconon clients who died at an Oklahoma facility.
Lunau was adamant that no matter why the facility has made headlines, “the only thing I really comes down to is what is good planning.”
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