Indigenous healing lodge gets green light in Scarborough neighbourhood

An Indigenous healing lodge has been approved for southwest Scarborough, amid objections from local residents.

Scarborough’s committee of adjustment voted unanimously in favour of the lodge at its meeting Thursday afternoon. About 60 to 75 people  — both for and against the project — showed up for a 90-minute discussion on the issue, said committee manager Andre Robichaud.

The lodge would offer temporary accommodation and counselling for about a dozen women who are either before the justice system, or re-integrating into society after their incarceration has ended, according to Thunder Women Healing Lodge Society president Patti Pettigrew, whose organization is behind the project.

It would also have permanent apartments for another 12 women who have completed re-integration counselling.

The lodge is planned for a vacant lot at the southwest corner of Cliffside Drive and Kingston Road.

Some residents in the area have voiced objections to the lodge, raising concerns about the proximity to schools, crime, traffic and a lack of consultation.

Pettigrew has said there’s a need for healing in the Indigenous community. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women confirmed that Indigenous women need more supports within the wider community, she previously told CBC News.

The lodge would be in an ideal part of the city, she said, with ample social services, good transportation connections and close proximity to the lake. There’s also a high number of Indigenous people in the area, Pettigrew noted.

Members of the public have 20 days after the approval to appeal the decision.

The project has been in the planning process for about two years, Pettigrew said, with a cost of $12 million.

“The over-incarceration of Indigenous women, the massive amounts of youth suicides amongst Indigenous children, the over-representation in the foster care system — all of those things contribute to the need for healing in our community,” Pettigrew said in a previous interview with CBC News.

“That’s why I’m doing this.”

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