Pharmacies banned downtown following public hearing

Council voted to ban pharmacies from downtown pending the outcome of the downtown revitalization plan

Council has approved third reading of a bylaw to prohibit pharmacies downtown following widespread support from businesses and residents for the ban during a public hearing Monday.

The bylaw calls to remove “pharmacy” and “medical clinic” as uses from the Core Commercial Downtown One Zone, a geographical area running roughly between Grand and Horne Street, and Second to North Railway Avenue.

“Deliberations have decided that downtown revitalization is one of the most important things that we’re going to begin during our term,” said Mayor Ted Adlem, adding the revitalization plan being developed by staff will be ready by year’s end.

The business community spoke in a unanimous voice, with 81 written submissions presented to the district from organizations like the Downtown Business Association, in support of the ban.

“We used to have a methadone pharmacy clinic downtown before. We had a lot of problems,” said Carlo Billinger, co-owner of Rex Cox Men’s Wear.

Nobody stepped forward to oppose the bylaw except the applicants believed to be the cause for the rushed legislation.

Life Pharmacy Inc. said they purchased the building at 33133 First Ave. with the understanding they would be allowed to open a pharmacy, and that they believe the ban is based on unfounded community rumours that it would be a marijuana clinic and needle exchange.

“The rumours would suggest we would be doing something illegal, and nothing could be further from the truth,” said Umesh Raniga, a spokesperson for the company.

He said the application is for a walk-in clinic and pharmacy, providing vaccines, a diabetes clinic, heart clinic, and prescription drugs, including methadone.

Raniga said Life Pharmacy filled out an application April 17 for the pharmacy, prior to the proposed legislation, but deputy chief administrative officer Paul Gipps said that it was considered incomplete.

Raniga further suggested that the legislation would hurt the “marginalized of Mission” and that it was simply pushing the “undesirables” away from the downtown.

“With a council very aggressive in bringing business to Mission, now you’re saying you can’t bring any new business downtown until your new revitalization plan is in place is a contradiction,” said Janet Chalmers.

Ann Harper of the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce said while she’s reluctant to support a bylaw that tells business owners where they can operate, the chamber supports the revitalization vision. In an official statement from the chamber, it requested a compromise by allowing a downtown pharmacy at a minimum of 5,000 square feet of retail space.

Coun. Jenny Stevens said she couldn’t support a bylaw that prohibited certain businesses based on their activities, and suggested it might be a contravention of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“We have to respond to the overwhelming concerns of the people who are directly affected, specifically the businesses of Mission,” said Coun. Jeff Jewell.

Third reading was approved 5-1, with Stevens being the sole dissenting voice, though most of council expressed similar reservations. Coun. Dave Hensman was absent.

Nanda Sanbandma, a pharmacist with Life Pharmacy, said they have launched a legal challenge against the District of Mission.

Just Posted

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

Emergency services were on the scene of an apparent stabbing Friday afternoon (June 11) in the 2400 block of Countess Street in Abbotsford. (Photo: Kaytlin Harrison)
Two suspects arrested after apparent stabbing in Abbotsford

Incident occurs Friday afternoon in 2400 block of Countess Street

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read