As the opioid crisis in London and Canada continues the city is trying to mitigate it’s harms with a new permanent safe-injection site. The Middlesex-London Health unit is currently looking for a suitable site for the new project. It must be easily accessible by public transit as well as be able to provide some degree of privacy. With these considerations in mind their have been two proposed sites first at 372 York St across from the old London Free Press Building the second site is just down the road at 120 York.
Concerns have been raised by community members in both areas. Concerns around the 372 York site
are primarily based on the planned redevelopment of the London Free Press building into a business plaza. That building is owned by Farhi Holding Corp, they are concerned about the potential impact a safe-injection site would have on their proposed development.
As an alternative Farhi proposed the use of another one of it’s propertie
s, 120 York as the home of the permanent site. This site has it’s own unique set of problems. Many businesses are concerned that a safe-injection site should not be so close to the downtown hub and entertainment district. The 120 York site is just a block away from the Budweiser Gardens the cities largest entertainment venue.
Janette Macdonald CEO of London Downtown says “Neither of these sites are ideal to be honest and I really hope that we can go back to the drawing board and start looking for further sites,”
However health officials are aware there is no ideal site as most people are skittish at the prospect of a safe-injection site they feel it is in the best interest of the community as a whole. Dr Chris Mackie CEO of the Middlesex-London Health Unit wants people to understand that with the scope of the opioid crisis sites like this are essential and in the long run help the community.
By having sites like this it keeps needles off the streets. It also provides a safe venue where people can get medical attention in the case of an emergency, an issue becoming more prevalent since fentanyl has started appearing on the streets.
This appears to be a case of not in my backyard, most people understand the need for this site. Dr Mackie conducted an online poll asking citizens which of the sites they preferred, 35% like the 372 location, 22% prefer 120 York and 43% responded “either, we need this now”. So people are aware this is necessary, however the longer the location is under dispute the longer drug users will be left out in the cold.
Below is the video report for this story.