Methadone clinic issue prompts Central bylaw

MINDEMOYA—Central Manitoulin followed in the footsteps of the Northeast Town and the Township of Assigniack, addressing their bylaws in regards to methadone clinics by passing an interim control bylaw to temporarily halt the establishment of methadone clinics in the municipality for one year to allow for a planning study.

Last Thursday, Central Manitoulin council passed an interim control bylaw to “temporarily halt to prohibit the establishment of methadone clinics and dispensaries for a period of one year in order to allow for the completion of a planning study on the potential regulation of these uses.”

“Council requested that staff look into our bylaws in terms of clinic regulations after hearing Chief Hare (Chief Joe Hare of M’Chigeeng First Nation) on CBC,” explained Central Manitoulin Reeve Gerry Strong. “We, council, thought it would be best to do a study into the best place to have that type of clinic in our municipality.”

Mr. Strong added that the interim bylaw was for the town to look into the issue in their own municipality, with the study being done “in house,” but that council did express they would be willing to work with other municipalities and First Nations on the issue, as it was an “Island-wide topic.”

It was also noted at the council meeting that the interim bylaw would not effect the current program in place for M’Chigeeng First Nation methadone clients who, since the closure of only methadone clinic on the Island, the 19A Water Street Clinic in Little Current, have been meeting their methadone doctor, Dr. Brian Dressler, at the Manitoulin Central Family Health Team and filling their methadone prescription at the Mindemoya Guardian Pharmacy.

Early last month, the Northeast Town council passed proposed amendments to the town’s commercial and residential zoning bylaw to limit the placement of future clinics (prompted by recent methadone clinic problems) in the municipality, while the Township of Assigniack passed an interim bylaw at its council meeting, “being a bylaw of the Corporation of the Township of Assiginack to impose interim controls in order to prohibit the establishment of new methadone clinics (a medical, dental or other professional office that dispenses methadone) and dispensaries (a business selling or filling methadone prescriptions for customers as the primary activity of the business, but excludes a pharmacy or a pharmacy that is accessory and ancillary to a medical clinic or hospital) for an interim period of six months in order to allow for the completion of a planning study on the potential regulation of these uses.”

Currently, no other municipalities on the Island have made changes to their bylaws regarding clinics or passed any similar interim bylaws.

Robin Burridge