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Leslieville locals propose class-action lawsuit against safe injection site where Toronto mother was fatally shot in July


A proposed class-action lawsuit has been launched against a health centre operating a safe injection site in Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood where a wife and mother of two was fatally shot last summer.

The lawsuit, filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice earlier this year, blames the South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC), the province and the city for what the claimants say has been the neighbourhood’s "rapid" deterioration since the consumption site's opening six years prior.

The action has not been certified and at this time, the respondents have not filed a statement of defence.

Riverdale resident Jacqueline Court and local business JSCS, who have requested to be named as plaintiffs in the suit, claim the area has worsened to such a degree they have grown fearful for their and others safety.

They also claim the city and province failed to operate the site according to regulations.

“Jacquie has witnessed violent assaults and other disturbing criminal activity when passing the [centre] and is now reluctant to invite visitors to her home because of the environment immediately outside,” the statement of claim reads.

In turn, they say they’ve endured loss of income, out-of-pocket expenses to repair property damage arising from criminal acts, and diminished value of real property and are seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

When reached for comment, the SRCHC said it was important not to provide comment as the matter remained before the courts.

“What we can say, however, is that South Riverdale Community Health Centre remains focused on both public health and public safety,” a written statement provided by the centre reads. “We recently hosted three well-attended open houses to ensure residents are well-informed about the many health services available at the Centre. “

The filing comes less than a year after the death of Karolina Huebner-Makurat, a Toronto mother who was killed by a stray bullet last July while outside of the centre. Three people are facing murder charges in connection with the death, and a fourth, an employee of the centre, was charged with obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact to an indictable offence.

The Huebner-Makurat family can be seen above. (Handout)

According to the claim, members of proposed class action had begun documenting incidents in the area about two months before Huebner-Makurat’s death and, in June, met with the centre to share their concerns.

“Within 30 days, the Class Members reported and recorded 136 activities, 46.3 per cent of which was visible drug use,” the claim reads. “Not far behind were drug paraphernalia left out, substance abuse requiring medical attention, aggressive language or behaviour and drug selling, all taking place mostly on and around the centre property and in the nearby lanes,” it continued.

On July 4, three days before Huebner-Makurat was shot, the members claimed they followed up with the centre, which had not developed a plan to respond to their concerns.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health is not commenting on the lawsuit but said a review launched in the wake of Huebner-Maruket’s death is ongoing. 

“As the ministry continues the review, we will explore all appropriate options to ensure safe communities for all,” a spokesperson for the ministry said last fall. Top Stories

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