Pubdate: Wed, 12 Aug 2009
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Page: A1, Front Page
Copyright: 2009 The Windsor Star
Author: Dalson Chen, The Windsor Star
Bookmark: (Methadone)


Company Accused of 'Clandestine' Opening

Outraged west-side residents attended a public meeting Tuesday night
to protest the opening of a methadone clinic in their neighbourhood
and demand answers about how it came to be.

"We're not against drug rehabilitation. We're not against helping
people that need it," said Wyandotte Street West resident John Waffle,
44. "But we're against having things shoved down our throats. We're
tired of it."

The clinic, at 1101 University Ave. W. at Elm Avenue, opened Aug. 4 --
apparently without the knowledge of city officials.

It is owned by a private company called Ontario Addiction Treatment

"Our patient base comes in voluntarily," said Deb Garant, a nursing
liaison at the clinic. "They are typically addicted to oxycodone,
Percocet, or any type of opiate."

Garant described OATC as "a medical organization" open seven days a
week year-round.

But Jim Boscariol, the city's west-end manager of building
inspections, said the original renovation application made no mention
of a methadone clinic.

When the city received the application July 6, the proposed use was
for "offices."

"The name of the company was A-1 Contracting. That's basically about
it," Boscariol said.

Oak Avenue resident Philip Tsotsos, 42, called the lack of public
input on the clinic's location "a load of crap."

"We've had so many unanswered questions here tonight. Why is this
clinic open right now? Shut 'er down. Shut 'er down, inspector.
Somebody, shut her down."

Ward 2 Coun. Ron Jones, who arranged the meeting, said he's done his
own research on OATC and has concerns about how its clinics have
affected communities in Hamilton, Ottawa and Thunder Bay. "I am
personally not happy with the track record of this company," he said.

Jones said he will meet with the city's legal department this morning
to discuss investigating the company and the city's recourses.

Windsor West MP Brian Masse also attended the meeting -- not as a
federal representative, but as an Elm Avenue resident.

Masse noted that OATC did not contact the region's Local Health
Integration Network, the provincial organization that plans and funds
local health care.

Masse said he's learned OATC has been investigated by the College of
Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, and that there have been patient
deaths in the company's "rapid detox" program.

Masse said he believes the company tried "a clandestine approach" in
creating its Windsor clinic. "You would think they would have actually
done some outreach to the neighbourhood if they were sincere in their
application," he said.

OATC did not send a legal representative to the meeting. Instead, the
only people on hand to speak for the company were clinic staff, who
found themselves unable to answer many of the questions put to them.

Lee Anne Doyle, the city's chief building official, said the city
needs time to study the issue. "We need to do our due diligence. We
need to confer."

According to Doyle, rezoning was not required for the clinic. The
renovation permit that was eventually given described "an
administrative office for drug withdrawal patients." The building was
not to be used for a medical office.

Some residents pointed out the clinic's proximity to seniors' homes,
and raised questions about the security and cleanliness of the

Insp. Dave Perpich of Windsor police noted that a methadone clinic
does not mean an increase in police calls. He described the number of
police calls to the established methadone clinic on Drouillard Road as

But Perpich admitted that he, too, learned about the new West Windsor
clinic only a few days ago. "I wasn't aware that a methadone clinic
had opened, or was opening."

Other citizens wondered how long it will take the city to

"They are operating now. The doors are open. Clients are going in,"
said Elm Avenue resident Barbara Lum. "They're operating illegally....
What do we have to do to close it down? They're doing it illegally,
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake