Neighbors object to potential methadone clinic in Vancouver’s Chinatown – BC


Plans for a proposed methadone clinic in Vancouver’s Chinatown are getting mixed reactions in the beleaguered neighborhood that borders the Downtown Eastside.

On Friday afternoon, a small but vocal group of protesters voiced their opposition to the proposal for the vacant storefront at 523 Main Street.

“To be honest, I was quite shocked that there was no public hearing, no notice,” protest organizer and pharmacist David Wong said.

Wong, who owns and operates two Corning Drugs pharmacies in Chinatown, including one next to the potential methadone clinic, launched an online petition against the clinic, garnering more than 650 signatures on Friday.

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Like the half-dozen existing pharmacies in the area, Wong primarily serves the elderly. To his knowledge, no one dispenses methadone, he said.

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The heart of Chinatown, he said, is the wrong place.

« For the patients who come here, the elderly, the young, the children, I have concerns for their safety, » he said.

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The City of Vancouver approved a two-year development permit for the new operator of 523 Main Street on November 21 after receiving the application on October 11.

Since there was no change from its previous use of a health care office with a small pharmacy, no neighbor notification was required.

The College of Pharmacists of BC regulates which drugs can be sold or dispensed, and as of December 2 had not received any applications from the new operator.

Colin Wong of the College of Pharmacists of BC told Global News that if there is a direct change in ownership, the new owner must apply for either a direct change in ownership or a new pharmacy license.

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Global News has reached out to Moheb Michael, the licensed pharmacist who signed the operation letter included in the development permit application, for more details on his plans for 523 Main Street.

« We’re not against methadone and the concept, but I think a different place and time would make sense, » Wong told Global News.

As Chinatown struggles with street clutter, the local business improvement association says its members agree it’s not an appropriate business for the heritage area. A nearby request for a cannabis store at 242 East Pender Street was denied by the city last year.

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« Over the past two years, we’ve had a lot of inquiries about vacant stores for cannabis stores, methadone clinics, pharmacies because it’s pretty profitable, » the Vancouver Chinatown president said on Friday. BIA, Jordan Eng.

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« But if we’re trying to revitalize Chinatown, it doesn’t really add to the neighborhood. »

Friday’s rally drew a counter-protester who said a methadone clinic would benefit the area.

« It’s kind of like not in my backyard syndrome that they seem to have and it’s just very ignorant, » said Downtown Eastside resident Daniel Lacert.

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« It could be their son or their daughter, or their mother or whoever might become addicted to opiates and need this help. »

Guy Felicella, clinical peer adviser and recovery advocate, from the BC Center on Substance Use, said the reaction was overdone.

« When did we become such a fearful society, » Felicella asked on Friday.

Felicella thinks a methadone dispensary might actually help Chinatown coexist with its Downtown Eastside neighbors.

“People who are going to come here are not going to hang around here all day. They’re going to come here, access their health care like they would anywhere else, and then go about their business,” he said.

« It’s a substance that stabilizes people and keeps them away from the illicit drug supply. »

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The City of Vancouver said the new pharmacist is in good standing with the College of Pharmacists of BC and the proposed use matches current zoning.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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