London is taking the next step to bring supervised injection sites to the city.
Medical officials, politicians and members of the community gathered together to discuss the importance of having safe injection areas for people with drug addictions.
Officials say the next step is public consultation on the issue.
Old East Village and the downtown core are being considered as locations for supervised injection sites.
“We found that over 80% of people said they would use a supervised injecting site if one was available,” Dr. Thomas Kerr, Co-Director of the Addiction and Urban Health Research Initiative at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence said. “Men were a little more willing than women, but again over 70% of women said they would use supervised injecting sites.”
Dr. Sharon Koivu, Physician consultant at the London Health Sciences Centre says she missed the funeral of a 29-year-old patient she lost to an overdose to attend today’s meeting.
“Every day I dedicate my work to her and to myself,” Koivu said. “I realized that I did not know a lot about addiction and I did not realize what was happening in our community.”
She adds that this option is crucial for being able to save the lives of people in the community.
During the presentation, Kerr noted that some people and businesses may not want a supervised injection site nearby.
“It’s not unreasonable to worry about increased crime or whether there will be increased drug dealers around, but we have to remember that there are over 90 of these facilities,” Kerr said.
Mayor Matt Brown says emergency room opioid drug use cases are one and a half times higher than the national average.
“That’s significant,” Brown said. “When we develop solutions, we are not inviting more people to do drugs, we are trying to help people in our community that are dealing with this on a daily basis.”
He says it is an urgent issue for the city and that he and other mayors will be looking into ways to provide solutions for those dealing with an addiction.
According to Brown, discussions with councillors and community leaders are expected to take place in a few months.