London one step closer to two supervised injection facilities

An injection kit at London's temporary overdose prevention site, picture on Feb 12th, 2017. Liny Lamberink / 980 CFPL

London is moving closer to two permanent supervised injection facilities.

The planning committee voted 5-0 in favour of two specific sites Monday.

The locations in questions are a public housing building at 241 Simcoe St. and a site at 446 York St. They were both chosen by the Middlesex London Health Unit.

READ MORE: Temporary overdose prevention site ‘beginning to have an impact’ in London

Medical officer of health Dr. Chris Mackie says some people are under the impression these sites will bring more crime to the neighbourhood.

“Research evidence shows there is no drug-related increase in crime in a neighbourhood where supervised consumption is initiated,” said Mackie.

“There are increases in public order in those sites or facilities and that’s been shown in a couple of different research studies as well,” he said.

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There is also concern property values will be negatively impacted by these sites, but Mackie says, if you look at Vancouver’s downtown east side — the home of Canada’s first injection facility — property values have gone up almost 120 per cent.

READ MORE: Health unit strikes deal for supervised consumption at 241 Simcoe St. and 446 York St. in London

As for the success of these facilities, Mackie says you only have to look at Ontario’s first temporary overdose prevention site, located at 186 King St., to see the benefits.

“As of last Wednesday, we had 2,099 client visits at the site, with almost 700 unique clients. Three overdoses were all handled very smoothly. Hundreds of clients connected with other services including drug counselling and treatment services,” he said.

“(There has been) no increase in neighbourhood issues — crime, loitering, anything like that. Several neighbours also noted a reduction in needle waste around the site.”

This comes a few days after the health unit held a public memorial ceremony to remember the hundreds of Londoners who have died from opioid addictions during the past decade.

City council will make a final decision on the locations during their meeting next week.

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