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Parents don’t want methadone clinic opening next to grade school

Watch video above: Parents fight proposed methadone clinic in Mississauga. Laura Zilke reports. 

TORONTO – Worried parents and their local councillor who don’t like the idea of a methadone clinic behind their Mississauga school will likely be unable to stop it. But the clinic faces a bigger barrier: parking spot requirements.

“Our feeling really is that it’s an inappropriate place to put this clinic,” Seanna King, a parent of a child at the nearby school said. “We have no problem with the clinic. We realize that there is a need for these clinics. We just don’t think it’s an appropriate location for the clinic.”

The city is reviewing an application for a methadone clinic to open near St. James Catholic Global Learning Centre on Wanita Road in Mississauga. The clinic would be at 348 Lakeshore Road East and would back on to the school’s property.

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When local councillor Jim Tovey learned about the proposed medical clinic, his first thought was, “How can we stop this?”

The answer is, though, that they can’t – not really: If it meets the zoning criteria, the city can’t prevent the application.

“Is it appropriate to locate one of these facilities that close to a school?  Personally I don’t think so and clearly the community agrees with me on that,” Tovey said in an interview Wednesday.

Both King and Tovey say they aren’t against methadone clinics in general but simply don’t think it should be so close to the school. Indeed, King pointed out there was another clinic about 10 minutes away and she admits there’s no problems with the clinic in that neighbourhood.

“And we’ve heard from people in the area that they really do not have any issues or problems with that clinic being there. Our issue is, again, it’s just not a safe environment for little children to be close to,” she said.

She did not say exactly what would make the environment unsafe. Studies have shown methadone clinics don’t attract crime (although a convenience store might).

“We’re not out there… trying to shut down these clinics or anything like that,” King said. “It’s not about that, I think they’re great and we’re happy to support them, and people in the community, I’m speaking for most parents at St. James Catholic Learning Centre, we just feel that we would rather it be somewhere else. Not this close to our school.”

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But the clinic’s application is in limbo for completely different reasons: It needs 35 parking spaces but only has 30, which means it could wind up at the city’s committee of adjustment. There, it could either be squashed or allowed to proceed with some changes.

Both parents at the school and Tovey suggested methadone clinics could be regulated like adult video stores which aren’t allowed to open within 80 metres of a school.

“I’ve asked staff to come back with a report saying, well, do we license these?” Tovey said.  “Do we have some kind of appropriate buffer from sensitive land uses, which would be, you know, a grade school.”

– With files from Laura Zilke

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