Pubdate: Wed, 15 Jul 2009
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Colette Derworiz, Staff Writer


A methadone clinic that touched off a storm of controversy last week
won't leave Calgary after all.

Second Chance Recovery, which opened last week in a Braeside strip
mall, announced it would permanently close its doors and vacate the
city after a hostile community meeting and threats against its staff.

It's the third time in six years the clinic has been forced out of a
community, leading its operators to conclude Calgary won't support the
facility no matter where it is located.

"We all thought that everybody hated us and wanted to run us out of
town," said Bill Leslie, Second Chance Recovery's medical director.
"It was quite devastating."

But an outpouring of support from Calgarians over the weekend has
convinced clinic officials to try to find another spot outside of Braeside.

"We are doing everything we can to stay in Calgary," said Leslie,
noting A lberta Health Services -- which runs the city's only other
methadone program out of the Sheldon Chumir Centre--has offered to
help them find a spot either in a light-industrial area or within
another health-care facility.

No one from Alberta Health Services was available to comment on the
issue Tuesday.

Ald. Brian Pincott, who is seeking changes to Calgary's zoning bylaws
to allow methadone clinics to set up shop in industrial areas, said
he's pleased to hear the health region is trying to help the clinic
find another location.

"They need to stay in Calgary," he said. "We have Calgarians who are
reliant on that clinic--methadone clinics, period--for any hope of

Pincott said the city should learn from the way Braeside residents
reacted to the clinic and its initial decision to permanently leave
Calgary due to the lack of support.

"We, as a city, were letting down 500 people who were committed to
working hard to getting on with their lives, committed to recovery,"
he said. "We were letting those people down, so, my God, yes, we need
Second Chance in Calgary.

"If we didn't need them in Calgary, they wouldn't have 500 people
using their services."

The clinic provides counselling along with a daily dose of methadone
to its clients who are trying to beat addictions to heroin, morphine
and some prescription painkillers.

There are three methadone clinics in Edmonton and one each in Red
Deer, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.

"We've never had a complaint in the smaller communities," said Leslie,
who also runs the three southern Alberta clinics. "So why would there
be a complaint in Calgary?

"I don't understand it all, but hopefully we can educate people."
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