CALGARY — About 500 angry residents of a Calgary neighbourhood turned up at a community meeting to protest a methadone clinic’s move to their area.
“We just don’t want it in our backyard,” shouted one man during the open house Tuesday night at the Braeside community hall in the city’s southwest.
The sentiment was a popular one at the standing-room only session, which was held to address concerns over the opening this week of the Second Chance Recovery clinic in an old Medi-Centre in a strip mall.
The meeting almost never started due to the number of residents, who lined up outside the filled-to-capacity building and were prevented from entering due to fire codes.
Those inside demanded the meeting be moved outside. Many tried to shout down Ald. Brian Pincott when he tried to address the crowd.
“My goal is that if Second Chance is going to be in our community, then it is up to us as a community that it works as best as it can,” Pincott said to a chorus of boos.
He said the city has no legal recourse under its land use bylaw to yank the addiction centre, which operated out of an industrial complex in the northeast before its lease expired two months ago.
“I found out about this the same time you did — on Monday morning last week,” he said. “Because of the land use (for medical zoning), the clinic had no legal obligation to inform anybody.”
No one from the clinic or the mall’s ownership group attended the meeting due to outstanding legal issues.
The former Medi-Centre, unbeknowst to its landlord, sub-leased its space to the methadone clinic. The mall owner is fighting the move in court on the grounds the lease isn’t valid.
Police have not seen an uptick in crime in areas where methadone clinics operate, Supt. Trevor Daroux told the residents. But he added that no clinic has operated in a residential area until now.