Medical clinic approval draws questions about broad definition

By Tyler Marr
October 11, 2017 - 11:43am Updated: October 11, 2017 - 9:39pm

In a turn of events, a request to open a medical clinic in a residential area turned into a debate over methadone and marijuana.

A proposal to develop a podiatry clinic at 3041 Sherman Dr. Tuesday was met with hesitations by Coun. Blake Edwards who wanted a guarantee if the building changed hands, “residents can be assured this will not turn into a different type of clinic down the road.”

Residents in his ward, he said, expressed concern it could turn into something like a methadone clinic.

City staff said the definition of a medical clinic is an all-encompassing term and as long as the next business fell under the “medical clinic” category, it would not require the application to come before council for approval.

According to the zoning bylaw, a "medical clinic" is defined as “a facility for the provision of human health services without overnight accommodation for patients and includes medical, dental, optical clinics and/or medical laboratories.”

Edwards was concerned, “this clinic could turn into any clinic it chooses.”

“I don’t believe they have the proper information so I don’t believe they should go ahead with this clinic,” he added.

Council brought up similar concerns about the sale of marijuana. Though city staff said there was no word yet on how the federal or provincial government will classify marijuana dispensaries, they “ventured to say [marijuana dispensaries] will be a separate category in the zoning bylaw.”

With a remedy to the ailment, Mayor Greg Dionne pitched the plan to explore a bylaw to zone out methadone clinics within an acceptable distance of residential areas.

“I vote today for a podiatrist. I won’t vote for a marijuana clinic, I won't vote for a methadone clinic in a residential area,” Dionne said. “To me, those are highly controversial and I don’t believe that once we give a permit for a medical clinic, it should be cart-blanche.”

Some councillors expressed a need to move ahead on approving the clinic application, highlighting how the province slashed podiatry service in the 2017 budget.

After further clarification and commentary, the motion passed with only Coun. Edwards opposed. Council then passed a motion brought forward by Ted Zurakowski asking administration to come back with a report detailing the city’s authority to restrict methadone clinics within residential areas.


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