Another dose of methadone discussion expected Tuesday (Sept. 18)
London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
The city’s policy around methadone clinics is an item that should generate considerable discussion during council’s regular meeting next week.
On Tuesday (Sept .18), councillors will have the opportunity to discuss not only a warning from the Ontario Human Rights Commission that was presented to the Planning and Environment Committee on Sept. 4, but also the results of a public meeting on a proposed methadone clinic held the following night.
Tuesday’s council meeting will be the first time the full council will have the opportunity to discuss this latest controversy around the city’s methadone clinic policy.
That warning from the commission was to not allow discussions during a public meeting the following night on a proposed methadone clinic at 425 Wharncliffe Rd. (north of Base Line Road, next to a Dairy Queen outlet) to lead to discrimination against people with addictions. At that meeting, however, the discussions did stray away from strictly planning related matters.
It was during the planning committee meeting that John Fleming, the city’s director of planning, said the public consultation was to provide information to the community and would be focused around the planning application process.
“We will also give some context around the policies that council recently approved,” Fleming said. “It also gives the applicant the opportunity to talk about facilities they have operated in other municipalities and what they are intending here.”
However, at the public meeting, which was attended by nearly 300 people at the Hillside Church, more than a dozen people raised concerns such as how the proposed clinic will affect the safety of local children, why such a facility is needed in an area that already has a clinic, the possibility of property values dropping and allegations surrounding one of the company’s founders.
Sam Hosack, board chair for the Western Day Care Centre, which is located 300 metres from the proposed clinic site, asked city staff why day care centres weren’t included in a list of institutions, such as schools, arenas and libraries, that any clinic built in the city must be set back from by at least 300 metres.
“The only difference between schools and licensed day care centres is our children are more vulnerable and defenceless than the older school children,” Hosack said. “It’s more difficult to educate and expect a kid not to pick up a dirty needle or eat a harmful pill or become a victim of any other risks that are associated with this clinic.”
Denise Brown, councillor for Ward 11 where the proposed clinic would be located if approved, said she doesn’t believe another clinic is necessary in the area and will vote against the company’s application, should it come before council.
Fleming said city staff would take all of the community input offered during the meeting into consideration. The next step in the process, Fleming said, is another public meeting, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 24. From there, the application will go before the city’s planning committee.
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