If all goes according to plan, the first permanent supervised consumption site in London, Ont., will be up and running before the end of the year.
In the meantime, the temporary version of the site, the Carepoint Consumption and Treatment Service, has moved away from its location at 186 King St. and relocated to a trailer at 446 York St., the home of the upcoming permanent fixture.
The site works by offering people a place to use drugs safely and seek services for recovery.
The trailer is being used as an interim solution as Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC), the organization that runs Carepoint, waits for construction to finish on the permanent site.
“We’re hopeful that it will happen sooner than later, not wanting to put a date on it because you never know with supply chain issues, during COVID things are getting more difficult to get, but we’re doing great,” said Megan Van Boheemen, manager of harm reduction services at Carepoint.
“By the end of the year is what we’re hoping.”
Between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, Carepoint received nearly 17,500 visits to its former location on King Street. Those visits led to 171 overdoses being reversed and 2,941 clients referred to community supports.
Van Boheemen says there’s been a noticeable drop in visits since Carepoint relocated to 446 York St., but adds that teams have been working to get the word out about the move.
“We do anticipate that once word gets out there and we have folks finding us and finding out how to access us, our numbers will increase again,” she added.
Back at 186 King St., a security guard has been placed at the former site to offer naloxone to those in need.
The relocation has also prompted RHAC’s Counterpoint needle and syringe program to now operate out of the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s office in Citi Plaza, however that program and Carepoint will both be under one roof once the permanent site is up and running.
“We’re actually pretty hopeful that folks will get used to coming to see us at this space … for when our permanent site does open up, it will hopefully be a smoother transition,” Van Boheemen added.
“Hopefully, we won’t be in the trailer for more than a year.”
Carepoint first opened on a temporary basis in 2018 with city councillors approving a rezoning application for 446 York St. later that year – the address formerly housed John Bellone’s Musical Instruments.
The site was then granted provincial approval, the final approval needed, in 2020.