Skip to content

LETTER: City let us down on CTS location, writes head of Downtown Cambridge BIA

'We continue to build and strengthen these relationships where possible, but the city staff has gravely let us down this time'

CambridgeToday received the following open letter to members of the Downtown Cambridge BIA from Brian Kennedy, executive director from the Cambridge Business Improvement Area regarding a Consumption and Treatment Services site on Main Street.

Members of the Downtown Cambridge BIA, 

On Tuesday, October 12, 2021, council passed a Motion to endorse a Consumption & Treatment Services site at 150 Main Street. The motion carried with support from all but two councillors: Jan Liggett, our Ward 4 downtown councillor, and Nicolas Ermeta, our city councillor appointed to the Downtown Cambridge BIA Board. 

The decision was swift and calculated. Without calling into question the mayor and councillors individual reasons for support, it was clear they arrived at their decision in advance of the council meeting that evening. Our delegation Tuesday night may not have changed the outcome, but it would have provided us with the opportunity to speak once again on behalf of our members, to stress the importance that a site not be selected within the downtown core or 500m buffer. Still, that opportunity to serve you was taken from us.

In September, the Downtown Cambridge BIA had requested that the report on the CTS Site location be sent to us for review and circulation in advance of the meeting. By way of city processes for formally receiving the information requested in council reports, we rely on these channels to give us enough time to review, discuss as a board and craft our response and actionable next steps. This request was sent by the BIA to the city clerk and requested by our city liaison, Laura Pearce.

Ultimately, the report was never sent to us and no specific reason why has been provided by city staff at this time. As a BIA, we know our relationship with city staff is vital for receiving information that affects our downtown core. We continue to build and strengthen these relationships where possible, but the city staff has gravely let us down this time.

The executives of our Downtown Cambridge BIA met with Mayor McGarry yesterday evening to share our disappointment and frustration with how this decision by council was carried out. We echoed once again our objection to a CTS site downtown. Through the discussion with the mayor and chief of staff, it was made clear that council knew our collective position on CTS. The public consultation had materialized our objection countless times over the past couple of years. Still, council decided to move forward with the support of a CTS site at 150 Main St. regardless of our members' united objection.

The decision to approve a CTS site at 150 Main St. is a fate that lies in the hands of our city council. Unless they overturn their judgment, there is little more that can be done. That said, we encourage our members to individually reach out to city councillors directly to voice their concerns on the latest CTS developments.

Please include the BIA on these emails so that we can stay abreast of our member's concerns and assist where possible to host meetings with staff or provide resources to address specific issues. We will continue to demand that we are kept informed and work with City staff on new processes to ensure this doesn't happen again. We will hold city council and staff responsible.

Brian Kennedy

Executive director, Downtown Cambridge BIA