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No fear over risk of gap in service after appeal filed over plans for permanent supervised consumption site: RHAC

In Dec. 2018, city council rezoned the York Street address of a former musical instrument shop to allow for a supervised consumption facility. Middlesex-London Health Unit

The head of the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC) says the temporary overdose prevention site, or TOPS, should remain in operation until a permanent site is ready.

READ MORE: London council approves rezoning of 446 York St. to allow for supervised consumption facility

The development of a permanent site at 446 York St. is on hold as an appeal of the plan makes its way through the local planning appeal tribunal.

“I think that no matter where we situate the site, we’re going to be faced with some opposition so we need to be able to respond to that,” said Brian Lester, executive director of RHAC, which runs the facility alongside the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

“After we come out at the other end of this, if the appeal isn’t successful and we end up situating at 446 York, we’re very committed to working well with the community and the neighbours to address any concerns.”

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

In the meantime, Lester noted that the TOPS on King Street has government funding until at least the end of March 2019 and the landlord at that site has also expressed support.

“We have verbal permission from the landlord that we’ll be staying through until March 31, 2020, which will give ample time for the appeal process to work its way through the system and hopefully resolve,” he explained.

“I’m not concerned about the risk of there not being service effective April 1, 2019.”

Lester says the site provides vital services: preventing HIV and Hepatitis C infection, preventing overdoses, and helping people access support. He added that while there is opposition to the York Street location and the service in general, there has also been a strong wave of community support.

The sites have been developed to help combat the opioid crisis.

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