May 15, 2018 5:35 pm

Provincial Liberals support 2 supervised consumption sites in London

A new supervised consumption site opened at Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Hospital on April 2. The proposed sites in London would be located at 446 York St. and 241 Simcoe St.

Kendra Slugoski, Global News

As debate rages on in London over a proposal to establish two new supervised consumption facilities, the plan has taken another step forward.

On Tuesday, the Middlesex-London Health Unit and Regional HIV/AIDS Connection announced they’ve received letters of support from Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to establish two locations.

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The provincial support includes letters detailing capital and operational funding, and a letter of support for the establishment of two facilities from Liberal Minister Helena Jaczek.

The proposed sites would be located at 446 York St. and 241 Simcoe St.

READ MORE: London city council endorses proposed supervised consumption sites

“While this is an important step in the process, we value the community’s input and feedback,” said Chris Mackie, London’s Medical Officer of Health.

“We’ve already started the conversation and look forward to the discussion that will follow in the coming weeks and months.”

On Monday, more than three dozen people addressed a city committee about the proposed sites at a public participation meeting at city hall.

No timeline has been set for the opening of London’s supervised consumption facilities, however, it is expected to take several months to complete the application review, the city’s zoning process, preparation of the space, and to hire staff.

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

“The locations we’ve identified are close to services needed by people caught in the cycle of drug addiction. They are also located in areas that respondents to the feasibility study said they would use,” said Brian Lester, executive director at Regional HIV/AIDS Connection.

Local officials still need to obtain federal approval as well as municipal zoning and permits.

Back in February, a temporary overdose prevention site opened at 186 King St. in downtown London. To date, almost 700 clients have made roughly 3,000 visits to the site, and only three overdoses have occurred.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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