July 26, 2018 7:57 am

Health unit meets with those living near proposed consumption site in London

An injection kit at London's temporary overdose prevention site, picture on Feb 12th, 2017.

Liny Lamberink / 980 CFPL

Efforts to establish a permanent supervised consumption facility in London continue to move forward.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) and Regional HIV/AIDS Connection hosted a community information session for those who live close to the proposed site at 446 York St.

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

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“We know there are people who are strongly in favour of these sorts of sites and there are people who are strongly opposed,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, London’s chief medical officer of health.

“I think some of those aren’t going to change, but I’ve definitely seen more people emailing or even coming up to us in person saying, ‘We support what you’re doing, we think it’s appropriate,'” he said.

“I think Londoners are, for the most part, starting to understand what a benefit supervised consumption can be to their community.”

The province’s first Temporary Overdoes Prevention Site (TOPS) opened in London in February. If the province doesn’t agree to extend funding, the site will close mid-August.

“What we’re hearing from Health Minister Christine Elliot is they’re going to look closely at the research evidence,” Mackie said.

“I think that’s very promising because the research evidence is strongly in favour of this sort of facility,” Mackie said.

“Not only helping people’s health [by] preventing overdose deaths and the spread of HIV, but also improving neighbourhoods by getting injection off the street,” he said.

READ MORE: MLHU seeks extension for temporary overdose prevention site in London

Asked what he’s heard from people using the site, Mackie said the response has been great.

“Feedback from the people who have been attending the temporary overdose prevention site has been incredibly positive. It’s a real departure from the medical model,” he said.

“The basic element of the service is treating people with kindness and respect and that can really change their perspective on what the system is offering them.”

When it comes to permanent locations, both the York Street location and the other proposed location at 241 Simcoe St. have yet to be zoned for a permanent supervised consumption facility, Mackie said.

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