Local residents who disagree with a pharmacy contract being awarded to a large drugstore chain outside of the area will hold a protest on March 24 in Bridgetown.
“Friends and residents of Bridgetown and the surrounding area are planning a peaceful protest to show support for local businesses and communities who have been affected by the recent decision by the Annapolis County Municipal Housing Corporation to move contracts outside of the county,” the Concerned Citizens of Bridgetown group said in a statement March 18.
The contract held by Bridgetown Pharmasave will end in April after more than 50 years of service to ACMHC’s Mountain Lea Lodge nursing home. The new contract goes to Lawtons Drugs, owned by Sobeys.
“As taxpayers in the county and recipients of the generosity of the present supplier, we strongly object to this decision,” the citizens’ group said. “The protest is intended to show support for those affected and send a strong message to the people involved that community support and benefit should be the No. 1 determinant in any decision of this nature.”
The protest is scheduled for 1 p.m. behind Bridgetown Pharmasave. Those attending will walk to Mountain Lea Lodge on Church Street, where they will protest.
“It’s time for MLL to explain why they are not open about their decision to rip a contract from Bridgetown Pharmacy that has given MLL 100 per cent-plus for many years,” said David E. Cranton, one of the protest organizers. “I can bet you will not get better service anywhere.”
The housing corporation’s CEO Joyce d’Entremont said she is aware of the planned protest. “I would hope this would be respectful to our residents and staff,” she said of the event.
“We request all be respectful to any family coming to visit that day,” said ACMHC chair Joan McLean.
“This is a small community filled with people who cherish rural living,” said Bleu Rae, who created the Facebook event for the protest. “One of the hardest facets of living rurally is finding work and caring for our citizens. The loss of the MLL contract for Pharmasave is devastating for our community. It will mean the loss of jobs and hours for some of our local citizens.”
She also believes it will mean the bigger loss of the highly personal and caring customer service that Pharmasave has been providing MLL since 1966.
Rae sees the potential for negative community impacts, a waste of time and resources, and a negative environmental impact.
“They are awarding their own executioner with a shiny new axe,” Rae said. “An axe to our rural community, an axe to those who fight tooth and nail to stay living in the rural communities they love so dearly.”
Like Cranton, Rae questions the tender process, but the housing corporation won’t comment beyond saying it followed provincial regulations.
Resident and retired pharmacist Maria Hagen said she was shocked with the decision to go with an out-of-town supplier.
“I’m upset and I fail to see how moving this out of the county is providing better care than the 24/7 care that has been provided for the last 53 years since MLL opened in 1966,” said Hagen, who is also a protest organizer. “Glowing reports to council, no complaints issued… the community wants an explanation for the lack of transparency in scoring this contract. I want an explanation how a $12 professional fee is going to provide any profits after it has been driven two hours? This to me does not make any business sense. What other issues are at play that we are not being told?”
Hagen thinks it’s time that the Department of Health and Department of Community Services need to be called in.
“I urge everyone to come out and peacefully protest the actions of MLL and ask for much more transparency and to show support to our local Pharmasave and our beloved pharmacist and community member Kirk Lycett,” Rae said. “Kirk has worked tirelessly for decades to help keep our town alive and our community thriving. He has done this, even at his own expense, without a second thought for ages. Let's get out there and show him our support.”
GoOnline: Concerned Citizen Protest