Silence fell in the Fairview Legion on Tuesday after a doctor pulled out several needles he picked off the ground on his walk to the hall for a public meeting about the opening of a methadone clinic in the area.
“This disease is part of this community,” addictions physician David Saunders said above the sound of the glass needles clinking together in his hands. “I’m here to stand up for the addicts in the community who need help.”
Saunders works with Direction 180, the organization opening the new clinic in a house at 3648 Dutch Village Rd.
More than 100 people gathered for the town hall meeting Tuesday afternoon, and views were starkly polarized.
Many residents and business owners say they are not opposed to the methadone clinic, but rather its location. They also say that hearings should have been held with the public before the site was chosen.
The province currently has no regulations in terms of public consultation with regards to medical clinics.
“My objection is the lack of public process,” said Laurel Harrington, owner of nearby Freeman’s Little New York. “You can’t get a liquor license… you can’t build a shed without the community being notified.”
Saunders stressed the need for a clinic in the area, noting that 30 per cent of Direction 180’s 300-person wait list are from Fairview and that seven opiate drug addicts currently live in the building next door to the clinic.
Teresa Nelson is the mother of an addict who has called Direction 180 every day for months in an attempt to get off the group’s wait list.
“This methadone clinic is much needed,” said Nelson as people in the crowd openly wept.
Direction 180 executive director Cindy MacIsaac passed out a fact sheet and told the crowd that steps will be taken to ensure there is no loitering around the clinic, which will be open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. daily.
“It’s disturbing to me because I am also a resident of Fairview,” said MacIsaac, a recovering addict of 16 years. “I know that if I hadn’t had support, I wouldn’t be here today.”