Year’s freeze on meth clinics OK’d
By CHIP MARTIN AND PATRICK MALONEY, The London Free Press
London had “sound planning reasons” to enact a bylaw freezing new methadone clinics for a year, the Ontario Municipal Board has ruled.
The quasi-judicial board approved the city’s “interim control bylaw” that froze any additions to the existing five clinics back in November so it could do a citywide study and develop regulations to control them.
The board rejected arguments from a man who once sought to open a methadone clinic on Bathurst St. His lawyer, Alan Patton, argued among other points that no land-use concerns arise from the operation of such clinics and the freeze discriminated against a “narrowly defined group of people.”
When city planners proposed the interim control measure, they were aware of one clinic at 528 Dundas St., but during the OMB hearing learned of four more.
The clinics have been established to help wean addicts off heroin and morphine.
John Fleming, the city’s planning director, hailed the decision as a vote of confidence in the city’s effort to proceed carefully and with great study.
“It sends the message we are on the right track,” Fleming said.
He conceded the time and effort for the appeal of the city freeze delayed its efforts to come up with a land-use plan.
“The fact we had to defend (it) set us back a little bit on the study,” he said. But he expects the plan and regulations for clinics will be presented to city council this fall.
The one-year ban on additional clinics expires in mid-November.
In its 21-page decision, the OMB placed stock in evidence from Sarah Merritt, manager of the Old East Village Business Improvement Area, who suggested the city impose a freeze until the issues about methadone clinics could be studied and citywide plans devised.
Merritt, the board noted, “(said) there should be no further impacts placed on already stressed neighbourhoods through a lack of municipal planning.”
The board also backed the city’s plan for a broadly based temporary ban “as a result of its intention to look to future planning as it knew the methadone treatment issue was increasing in importance and that it was in the public interest for the municipality to assess the situation of methadone clinics in London and determine a way forward through a comprehensive approach to the issue.”
This comes from the London Free Press and the original link is
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