Subiaco: students as young as 13 among the hundreds to sign petition against drug rehab centre

Stock image.
Stock image.

STUDENTS as young as 13 have signed a petition against a drug rehab clinic moving to the former Ronald McDonald House in Subiaco.

An Education Department spokeswoman confirmed today a petition against Fresh Start moving in to a York Street property was taken in to Shenton College.

“The school and school staff didn’t survey students regarding the rehab facility, but a student brought in the petition of their own accord and briefly circulated it to other students,” the spokeswoman said.

The City of Subiaco’s Meeting Procedures Local Law notes that petitions must be made by the electors of the district.

More than 300 Subiaco locals have stepped up the fight over a proposed drug rehab centre.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, residents presented a petition with more than 300 local signatures and 550 in total gathered over the week.

The petition called for the revocation of a motion passed in May this year, which allowed the expired nonconforming use – a lodging house – to continue at 16-20 York Street, Subiaco.

The property was previously Ronald McDonald House, a base for sick children and their families.

It has just been sold to Fresh Start, a drug rehabilitation clinic.

Roberts Road resident Philip Cresswell lodged the petition, joined by fellow resident Chantelle O’Sullivan.

“The petition was the outcome of local Subiaco residents, particularly the residents of York Street, Coghlan Road and Roberts Road who are directly affected by this council action,” Mr Cresswell said.

“We demand Subiaco councillors listen and take action.”

The property is in a residentially-zoned area, close to both Perth Modern and the new state high school proposed at Kitchener Park.

An elected member’s motion was moved by councillor Murray Rowe and seconded by Cr Julie Matheson on May 23, with the motion carried 8-3 to approve the continued exemption.

Reasons given by Cr Rowe included the property being purpose-built as a lodging house, and that if the Ronald McDonald House owners were unable to find a new owner, they would be prohibited to reoccupy their own building.

A council officer advised at the May meeting that while the council could consider a request to extend non-conforming use, it’s a planning decision under the Town Planning Scheme, and a signed planning application must be made in order for it to be valid.

This did not occur, and the officer advised that attempting to deal with the matter via an elected member’s motion rather than a planning application may result in an invalid decision, and deprived the community of an opportunity to provide comment.

As a result of the motion, the residents went to the Planning Minister, who referred the matter to the State Administrative Tribunal.

“The Tribunal will make a recommendation to the Minister about the validity or otherwise of the council decision,” Subiaco chief executive Don Burnett said.

Mayor Penny Taylor said elected members had been contacted by constituents about the matter.

“We’re hearing from residents who both have concerns and are supportive of Fresh Start operating at the site,” she said.

Fresh Start’s Wembley facility closed in January after Town of Cambridge council deemed it non-compliant, following complaints about anti-social behaviour.

Its existing Subiaco clinic faced possible closure last year after funding issues, with 232 supporters signing a petition to keep its doors open.

At the time, Fresh Start chief executive Jeff Claughton said the number of people seeking help for methylamphetamine addiction had sharply risen, with previous clients calling the service an “absolute blessing”.

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