A community meeting last night saw an opportunity to hear public opinions on a proposed supervised consumption facility site. Londoners attended in hopes of learning more about what this project would mean for the area and to voice their concerns. The project was approved by senior levels of government and now hopes to secure their location at 446 York Street.
The proposed site has been chosen based on access for those who most need their services. As a high drug use area, York Street makes the most sense for providing towards the at risk party. Located across the street from the Missions Services of London, this site is the first choice for proposers.
Concerns were voiced by local business owners and residents of the area who are concerned about the site location. A local business owner says, “I don’t oppose safe injections, I oppose the location selected.” These concerns were expanded on with mention of H.B. Beal Secondary School in close proximity to the site. In a high density residential area, concerns for safety of students and Londoners was a top priority for citizens. A man who’s company neighbours the proposed site raised concerns about business as he says “95% of our business is based on foot traffic.”
As the discussion broke into smaller groups, Londoners voiced that “it seems like we’re not being listened to by the city” and “I’m right next door, I’ve never been spoken to.” The proposal, made by the Middlesex-London health board, said that they held this meeting to hear community concerns and take these issues into consideration when applying to council.
The safety of site users was brought up, as people report constant jaywalkers from the mission services already. On a busy road like York Street, an increase in jaywalkers could cause safety problems. A representative from the current Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) on 186 King show there has been 10,387 visits as of Feb 12, 2018. With no deaths in TOPS, 56 overdose reversals and no increase in police activity in the area, statistics look good for supporting future facilities. The City of London is working towards providing options for city clean up.
Community member concerns about needles around the city are being addressed. 18 needle bins, volunteer pickups and a call in helpline to report needles in public spaces are available
— Megan King (@MeganKingNews) November 27, 2018
While concerns are being brought forth and addressed, there is a strong group of Londoners happy to encourage the facility on this site. Ward 13 resident and advocate for the Supervised Consumption Facility Deana Ruston is supporting the proposal and encouraging Londoners to do the same. Ruston started a petition in support of the 446 York Street facility that is ongoing and gaining traction.
Ruston believes that “this site is an opportunity for individuals to receive both social and health care.”
“These are individuals that do not access services like medical care, social care or addiction care due to barriers like transportation or the need for identification.”
“My apartment building actually backs right onto the 446 York Street site. The Men’s Mission is right across the street from the site…they are not able to use their substances in the facility for the safety of themselves and for staff, so being able to go across the street will allow clients to access to services both from the supervised consumption facility and from the Men’s Mission- it really is the perfect place for this,” says Ruston.
The project site has been federally approved and is currently seeking a zoning by-law change to allow “clinic use” on the property.