The public is going to get the chance to talk about a proposed drug treatment centre in Mission.
A public hearing, scheduled for Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at Mission city hall, will take place on a zoning bylaw text amendment which would make it possible for the Fraser Health Authority to open and run an opioid substitution treatment clinic on the Mission Memorial Hospital site.
If given final approval by Mission council, the change would permit clinical treatment, such as methadone and suboxone.
On Monday, council agreed to move the proposal forward to a public hearing, before deciding whether to give final approval.
Council and representatives from Fraser Health met earlier in the summer (July 10) and discussed several topics, including harm reduction strategies such as needle distribution, detoxification services and addictions recovery; opioid agonist therapy in Mission; and mental health concerns and services.
At that time, council said it would consider the zoning amendment to allow a clinic at the Mission Community Health Centre.
Council rejected Fraser Health’s proposed option to locate the clinic downtown, at the Mission Friendship Centre.
“Right from the get-go, we said that this could not go downtown,” said Mayor Randy Hawes.
A staff report noted that “a downtown location would place undue hardship on the other businesses in the area” and more people would be willing to access the service if the facility were co-located with other medical services.
Hawes said he doesn’t disagree with the clinic in the hospital setting.
“I support this, because we don’t have an alternative,” he explained.
Hawes voiced his concerns that the clinic is not nearly enough to deal with addiction problems, noting that Fraser Health doesn’t have available detox beds.
“I’m really hopeful that there is change coming,” he said, adding that he feels the best form of recovery is a 12-step program with peer support.
Coun. Danny Plecas said he is frustrated that it is a stand-alone clinic without other services being offered by Fraser Health.
Coun. Pam Alexis said she is in favour of having the clinic at the hospital site.
“This is our reality and there are a number of things that need to be done. This is just one of them.”
She also said there is a need for more recovery beds.
Coun. Jim Hinds said Fraser Health is the organization pushing for the clinic and council is only deciding whether to change zoning that would force the clinic to be located on the hospital grounds.
The proposed clinic would be staffed by two physicians and a health care worker and administrative support. It would operate three half days per week, and could see approximately 20-25 clients per week.
The clients would be inducted on methadone or suboxone in the clinic with the support of the physicians and staff on site.
After the induction, clients would be monitored by attending the clinic on a weekly basis. Those who require ongoing counselling would be referred to Fraser House in Mission.