No discussion, no more methadone clinics in Bancroft- for now 0
With not one word of discussion, Bancroft council passed a new by-law prohibiting the establishment of any further opioid dependence treatment clinics and dispensaries (also known as methadone clinics, or ODT clinics) for one year to allow for further planning study and potential new regulations.
Prior to passing the resolution for a vote, Mayor Bernice Jenkins introduced Heather Sadler, a planning consultant with the firm Ecovue Consulting Services who had assisted the town in drafting the new legislation.
Sadler explained that the Municipal Planning Act allows for the passage of an "interim control by-law" in cases where the municipality is dealing with an unfamiliar land use, and there is some sense of urgency.
"ODT clinics are more common in larger cities, but it is clear that these facilities are widening into smaller communities," said Sadler. "The by-law will give the town time to consider this kind of land use."
According to Sadler, the by-law can remain in effect for only one year. If an extension is requested after that time, the town would have to show a lot of progress has taken place during the initial year.
The new by-law does not affect the operation of the present ODT clinic in Bancroft, unless they change location within the town.
"An interim control by-law does not allow for public input," said Sadler. "However, it can be appealed."
Mayor Jenkins observed that there were no delegations present to speak to council on the matter.
"The delegations had an opportunity had they chosen to do so. First Step sent a notice they were not coming. I don't see Dr. Brown here. We intend to proceed with the by-law," she said.
Mayor Jenkins was referring to Dr. Carolyn Brown, a local physician who had made a request to address council about the new by-law.
When council members were invited by the Mayor to discuss the matter, there was no discussion.
Council passed the resolution unanimously. All council members were present for the vote.
Sadler later told reporters that the town had hired their company to provide some assistance with this piece of legislation, as the use of interim control by-laws is not common.
"They wanted to get it right," she said.
The following day when contacted, Brown clarified that she had told council that she may be late due to the hours of a medical clinic where she was working the same evening, and had also sent a letter for consideration by council.
Brown had actually arrived at the council meeting approximately an hour late, and found council had concluded the public portion of their meeting.
Brown believes there is room for two clinics in Bancroft, and in fact two clinics would provide an opportunity to assess two different models to see what works best for the community.
Brown has some concerns about the lack of medical planning in the North Hastings areas. For example supporting people with multiple difficulties such as past addictions as well as chronic pain issues, when there is no plan in place. This could include medical practitioners, social service providers, pharmacists, and municipal planning officials working together for the best interests of the patient, and the municipality.
She has advocated for over two years for an ODT clinic, as many patients travel long distances every day for treatment, and as a result are unable to work.
At the present time, the current Bancroft by-law now sets up a monopoly for provision of service in town, which is not a good idea according to Brown. If the present provider changes plans or location, there will be no clinic.
"What about a doctor's office," Brown wondered aloud. The current by-law appears to prohibit that too.