Former city councillor believes proposed location for CTS site 'makes sense'


A former Windsor city councillor who sat on the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit board is calling it unfortunate.

Rino Bortolin was the ward 3 councillor for eight years and believes this coming Monday's discussion at city council on the proposed location for the Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) site is purely political.

As AM800 news reported on Thursday, current ward 3 councillor Renaldo Agostino plans to table a notice of motion, calling on the city to rescind its support for the proposed site at 101 Wyandotte St. E. 

Bortolin says councillor Agostino is completely disregarding all the work that has gone on for the CTS site.

"This is purely political," says Bortolin.  "This is not about the residents in the community.  This is not about doing what the residents of ward 3 or downtown want.  This is pure politics.  That's the unfortunate part because at the end of the day, if this has an impact, if it slows down permanent funding or if it kills the project entirely, people will die."

He says the proposed site does make sense.

"Renaldo keeps talking about how he's listening, how he's listening and he hasn't done any of the homework on this issue," he says.  "If he did, he would realize that not only was this chosen through one of the most thorough processes I've ever been part of in eight years on council."

Bortolin says there wasn't one resident who spoke out against the site at previous meetings.

"There is data that show that those two locations were the most preferable locations," says Bortolin.  "Is there an ideal perfect location for something like this no, but was it the best of what was available, what was possible yes."

The proposed consumption and treatment site at 101 Wyandotte St. E. in Windsor, Ont. on Sunday, May 29, 2022. (Bob Bellacicco/CTV News Windsor)

The proposed consumption and treatment site at 101 Wyandotte St. E. in Windsor, Ont. on Sunday, May 29, 2022. (Bob Bellacicco/CTV News Windsor)

He says the proposed site had unanimous support for the board, BIA and also had great support from businesses. 

"This is when politics gets ugly and this is when decisions around public health and decisions around people dying are made for political motivations," he says.  "They're made for repaying political favours and this is the outcome of that.  There's no other way of putting it."

Bortolin adds he's confident approval from the federal government will come and the site will open.

"What's interesting about this is that, if this goes through on Monday, it's not that they are actually stopping that location from opening, it's actually shooting ourselves in the foot and it's stopping provincial approval which comes with funding," says Bortolin.

Last January, the health unit first approached city council for approval of hosting a site at 628 Goyeau St.  

In a narrow 6-5 vote council approved the request but in May, the health unit returned to council asking for approval of a different site at 101 Wyandotte St. E. which was also approved by a 6-5 vote.

A lease was signed and renovations are currently underway at the site.

The CTS or what the health unit is calling the SafePoint consumption service, is expected to open at that location in March.

It still needs final approval from Health Canada and the Ontario government.