A court case between a would-be pharmacy-methadone clinic in Mission and city council is nearing completion in B.C. Supreme Court.
Lower Mainland pharmacist Dhanesh Raniga contends that his application was halted because "marginalized" community members would have used support services and soup kitchens in the gritty downtown core.
The lawsuit, brought by Life Pharmacy against the District of Mission, contends that staff approval was initially given, but council changed the rules midway through the process.
Court papers contend that council rescinded the zoning after the application was already in the system.
Mission says it abided by municipal rules and was within its legal rights to prohibit zoning for pharmacies in the downtown core.
Pharmacy lawyer James Carpick said losses have been $17,500 a month, including hiring an Ontario pharmacist ($10,000 per month), a technician ($3,000 per month), mortgage payments ($3,500 per month), telehone, hydro, alarm costs and taxes ($775 per month) and insurance costs ($200 per month). The site is in the 33100 block of 1st Ave.
Carpick said the matter before the judge is simple: "Was the application in time, before Mission froze building permits, or wasn't it?"
During a public hearing last summer, opinions from business owners came down heavily against the pharmacy.
The Mission Downtown Business Association presented council with 78 signed form letters, all filled out on the same day.
Raniga was called "out of order" at the public hearing by Mayor Ted Adlem when he questioned council's motives and asked if the signatures had been verified.
The business-friendly council was elected in 2011 with the goal of revitalizing the downtown, which suffered during the recession and is getting rundown.
Business owner Angela Morrow of Uncommon Thredz said she was thankful that council stuck to its plan.
"We don't need another methadone clinic. Our downtown already struggles enough. It would just make it convenient for people to hang around," she said.
Mission resident Janet Chalmers, meanwhile, believes council "mismanaged" the matter and residents could be on the hook.
"Council had time to change the zoning. It was mishandled and mismanaged. Now taxpayers might have to pay the bill," she said.
A judgment is expected in a few week's time.