June 27, 2014 8:13 pm

East Vancouver residents angry about proposed pharmacy that may offer methadone

The planned future location of the small-scale pharmacy, a former bridal shop.

Rumina Daya, Global News

Businesses and homeowners on the Vancouver-Burnaby border are campaigning to keep a possible methadone dispensary out of their neighbourhood.

Opponents are worried about neighbourhood safety and say this is the second time the city has been less than transparent about changes affecting their community.

Burnaby resident Steve Canofari recently circulated a public letter, advising 1,000 neighbourhood businesses and residents about the development permit for a small-scale pharmacy received by the city.

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He says the clinic is not welcome in the family-friendly neighbourhood and will be a threat to public safety. Canofari says the city’s new homeless shelter at the old Ramada Inn on East Hastings is already having an impact on the neighbourhood, in the form of drug dealing and increased crime.

“Right now, my wife and kids are scared to walk our dog around this community,” says Canofari. “We’ve had crack pipes, needles, break-ins galore, the police will tell you they’ve had more issues in this community over the past six months than they’ve had in the past 16 years.”

The city of Vancouver says that a “small scale pharmacy” is proposed, and that it could dispense methadone.

“The applicant has not declared that they will be dispensing methadone specifically, however, the dispensing of methadone is an available option to all pharmacies provided they receive approval from the BC College of Pharmacists.  We conduct our review for this land use on the basis that any Small Scale Pharmacy can and will dispense methadone. The City has developed a fairly detailed and rigorous review process for each of these applications,” reads a statement from the City of Vancouver.

Canofari doesn’t believe the city is being transparent about what the clinic’s main business will be.

“There are active heroin users at the Ramada, and methadone patients,” says Canofari. “So if you’re a business person who has 600 people who could come to your facility, and you could dispense methadone for them, it makes more sense than selling ginseng or ginkgo biloba. I’m just putting two-and-two together.”

He says the city doesn’t care about property owners who are negatively impacted.

“The City of Vancouver seems to have the perspective that the only people in the community are the homeless and drug users. But everytime my car gets broken into, I have to pay the deductible,” says Canofari. “My family is a victim, my daughter is 14 and she’s scared to take the bus to high school.”

Canofari says the city should hold a public forum where residents and businesses can voice their concerns.

View the letter issued by Steve Canofari to his neighbours:

The City of Vancouver says feedback from neighbours will be accepted up until August 21, 2014 when the city makes its decision.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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