Methadone crackdown alarms agency boss
City council : A clinic freeze is considered Monday
By CHIP MARTIN The London Free Press
A proposed one-year ban on opening new methadone clinics in London is causing concern for a health agency that deals with addictions.
“My concern is what it would do to create barriers to methadone treatment,” said Michelle Hurtubise, executive director of the London InterCommunity Health Centre.
She plans to attend a special planning committee meeting Monday before city council where the freeze is being recommended while the city develops zoning rules for new clinics.
Hurtubise said methadone treatment is important to help wean addicts off drugs, but also to help people deal with chronic pain.
Aside from the controversial Clinic 528 on Dundas St. in East London, Hurtubise said there are least four other methadone clinics around London.
One deals with chronic pain for which methadone is effective, while other clinics deal with different clients. One is in the southwest, another in the north, but she couldn’t pinpoint the locations.
“I know there has been increasing demand,” she said, but added she’s unaware of the waiting list situation about which city officials need to understand.
Hurtubise said she would like her organization and Addiction Services of Thames Valley, among others, to be included in the groups city hall will consult as it develops zoning controls for future clinics.
City staff are recommending an “interim control bylaw” while the city develops new rules that would keep clinics away from schools, pawn shops and public housing.
City staff acknowledge the clinics provide an important community service.
“The interim control bylaw will ensure that no new methadone clinics and dispensaries are permitted until a full planning study is completed and appropriate land use policies and regulations are put in place,” says a staff report.
And that bylaw would halt any new clinics or dispensaries for a full year.
Ward 4 Coun. Stephen Orser said he doesn’t want to see any new methadone clinics in East London and complains there has been “chaos” outside Clinic 528 that opened in 2002.
Methadone is a synthetic drug that helps addicts get off opiates such as OxyContin and heroin.
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