Maple Ridge council wants to limit downtown pharmacies – Maple Ridge News

Maple Ridge City Council is looking for ways to limit the number of pharmacies in the downtown area, with some councilors particularly keen to control the number of smallholders whose businesses include prescriptions for opioid agonist therapy (OAT).

At their workshop meeting on November 2, councilors asked staff to prepare a bylaw banning new small-scale pharmacies in the city center around 224th Street and also to introduce buffer zones of 400 meters around pharmacies elsewhere in town.

Mayor Mike Morden said there was a particular pharmacy on the Lougheed Freeway between 224th and 223rd Streets whose store had a negative impact on neighboring businesses, which were forced to close or relocate.

“One operator in particular has had a negative impact on its neighbors,” Morden said. “That’s the reason it’s here.”

Com. Gordy Robson said customers who use the OAT program can cause problems for other businesses. OAT is an addition treatment to drugs such as heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodone. This involves taking methadone or the drug Suboxone to reduce cravings and prevent withdrawal. OAT treatment is intended to help people struggling with drug addiction stabilize their lives.

Robson said these drugs should be written for people looking for “sobriety”

“Obviously, substitution drug use is something that should be a step towards sobriety, it shouldn’t be something that is a maintenance drug in my opinion. It creates a whole problem around where they are.

The Lougheed Expressway businesses complained that customers using a new pharmacy providing OAT prescriptions were driving people away from nearby businesses. Business owners told The News their customers face open drug use, needles, drug paraphernalia, yelling of profanity and other issues.

“The reason we’re here is because various pharmacies have specific distribution activities under the OAT program,” Morden said.

“The byproduct of all of this was that we lost a group of longtime merchants in our town, and that is why we are here.”

He said the city is seeing more and more small pharmacies whose business is opioid agonist therapy.

There are currently 17 pharmacies in the city center, two more are expected to open and five more elsewhere in the city. Some are located in large retail spaces and vary in size. Staff said the number of pharmacies reflects other cities in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

Com. Judy Dueck, who has asked the council to take care of the matter, said there are just too many pharmaceutical outlets and she would like to see a greater mix of business types in the center. city.

“For me, it was about walking around town and talking to traders and locals about the number of pharmacies in our town center. I think we have more than enough access for downtown pharmaceuticals.

“Is this what we want to be? A community of pharmacies?

She said shopping is a problem for the city in every election cycle and people want retail, food, clothing and other goods.

Com. Chelsa Meadus said previous advice addressed similar issues.

“When I first moved here, we had an excess of pawn shops and check-cashing places, and that’s kind of what our downtown looked like, and our advice from the past made it that less comfortable environment, and so these businesses moved, and then we started having the nice restaurants that we have now, kids’ shopping, clothes, housewares and things like that, ”she said. declared.

Meadus said the council has done a good job of dispersing cannabis stores throughout the community.

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