Tuesday, March 30, 2004

City wants to keep new drug clinics away from schools

JOE BELANGER, Free Press City Hall Reporter 2004-03-30 02:24:14

London is trying to establish a bylaw requiring a buffer zone between methadone clinics and sensitive areas such as schools. But it won't be taking any action to encourage a Dundas Street clinic located across from Beal secondary to move.

"We can't do anything about it. They have a right to be there," Coun. Joni Baechler, head of the city's planning committee, said last night.

Clinic 528 has operated at 528 Dundas St., across from the high school, for about two years.

It provides a medically supervised program to help people with "severe opiate dependence." It includes a pharmacy and clinic doctors provide continuous care for clients who have overcome drug and alcohol abuse.

City staff are examining the issue and will report back to the committee in May.

Baechler said a buffer zone would require such clinics to open a set distance away from places such as schools, similar to a bylaw for strip clubs.

She said the issue must be explored carefully.

"We have to look at what the implications are, because they can be significant. Is every pharmacy dispensing methadone? Will they all fall under it? We have to be careful."

A group led by East London resident Elaine Murray approached the committee last month demanding the city take action to reduce the number of storefront social agencies in east London, including the clinic.

Some committee members asked administration to see what action, if any, could be taken to move the clinic.

Staff advised the clinic operates under legal zoning and there is little that can be done.

Murray said last night she is "pleased the committee is taking our concerns seriously."

In a report, Disband the Old East Ghetto, Murray, who says she represents the group Eyes of East London, says an over-concentration of social service agencies is having a negative impact on the area, discouraging new business and shoppers from going there.

City staff are preparing a report on the concentration of storefront social agencies in East London as part of an overall study of the area. That report is expected later this year.

Murray and Eyes of East London founder Mark Burrows are at odds over use of the group's name.

Burrows quit the group over a dispute about inaccuracies in the report on social agencies. He has since provided the city with documents claiming ownership of the name.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't think that a methadone clinic should be so close to a high school for two reasons:
1. It makes it too easy for recovering drug addicts to access more drugs. Face it, there are more drugs circulating in and around the high school by the students than in and around Clinic 528 by the patients.
2. The abuse, harassment and ridicule by the students is enough to discourage the patients from coming back or even walking through the doors for the first time.
On a positive note, keep it where it is. The student can look across the street and see just where they'll be if they keep taking drugs. It makes addiction a reality, not just something "that can't happen to them".