Businesses and residents in Halifax's Fairview neighbourhood are scrambling to raise $100,000 by Friday afternoon to fund a mobile methadone treatment service and stop a controversial methadone clinic from moving into a house on Dutch Village Road.
Keith Wells, chair of the Fairview Community Association, said the support from private citizens has been "amazing."
"I talked to somebody today who said they had $150 that they were saving but they were putting it towards this. It's that kind of groundswell that is happening," he told CBC News on Thursday night.
While the original deadline to raise the $100,000 was Thursday night, Wells said the business community now has until Friday afternoon, when they have a meeting with the owner of the building in question.
He would not disclose how close the Fairview Community Association was to their $100,000 goal.
Last month, the Direction 180 clinic announced its plans to treat opiate addicts at a house it had bought on Dutch Village Road, despite opposition from residents.
The location of the proposed Fairview clinic came under fire as soon as word spread. Many people living around Dutch Village Road were angered they weren't told about the site and were left fuming after a series of public meetings.
The province does not have regulations about public consultation for a clinic.
$420,000 raised in five days
"They have worked so hard over the last five years to try to really clean up, for lack of a better word, that area of Fairview," said Wells.
In just five days, businesses and residents in the area raised $420,000 to buy the house from Direction 180. All the money came from private sources — the province told CBC News on Thursday it had not been contacted for any funding.
Community members and staff with Direction 180 met on Wednesday night and reached a compromise — the organization would start a mobile clinic, but an additional $100,000 would be needed to fund it.
"A mobile clinic would really solve that apprehension and just a lot of the struggle that we're having," said Wells.
Cindy MacIsaac, the executive director of Direction 180, told CBC News she and her staff just want to get to work and there is a demand for the service in the Fairview area.
"You're on a treadmill, you're going one way and then all of a sudden you're going another way. More importantly, what about the people that are waiting for treatment?" she said Thursday.
"We're not in the business of negotiation and developers and all that stuff. We're in the business of saving lives, that's who we are."
'I think it's a crooked deal'
MacIsaac said Direction 180 had recently purchased a Winnebago from the U.S. for $25,000 that was outfitted to be a mobile methadone clinic. They plan to retrieve it from the States next week.
Direction 180 didn't have the money to staff the mobile clinic, so MacIsaac said the original plan was to get the house clinic open, then roll out the van later.
MacIsaac said the $100,000 would keep the mobile service running for a year and a half.
Wilson Jenkins, owner of the Mexico Lindo restaurant, said the clinic is asking for too much money.
"Personally I think it's a crooked deal. Not only are they getting back all the money that they spent to purchase the property and renovate it, but now they're trying to hold the community at ransom for another $100,000," he said.
"What's wrong with them using the money that they're getting reimbursed and using that to buy the mobile clinic?"
Direction 180 currently operates a treatment facility on Gottingen Street in Halifax.
Dozens of clients come to the clinic every day for a dose of methadone, a drug used to help control the withdrawal symptoms from opiates.