London’s monitored client website is slated to open in March 2022 on the newest – London


An opening date is in sight for London, Ontario’s first ever-monitored consumer location, but the operator of the new facility says there is still much work to be done before 446 York St. can begin serving customers.

On Monday, Brian Lester, executive director of the Regional HIV / AIDS Connection (RHAC), told Global News that the agency was working to secure funding from the Ontario Department of Health.

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Ontario Approves London Monitored Consumption Location at 446 York St.

This includes covering the cost of retrofitting the site that formerly housed John Bellone Musical Instruments to house a supervised consumption facility, which Lester estimated at around $ 1 million.

“Once the financial part of the application process is clarified and approved, the application would be advertised – essentially looking for a company to do the work,” Lester said.

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Lester hopes that RHAC can find a company to do the retrofit by fall 2021, which should take four to six months.

“I would hope we operate by March (2022) at the latest … there are COVID influences, there have been reports of supply chain issues related to construction products, so we’ll see what happens,” Lester said.

“We are excited about the new location, we have outgrown 186 King Street, there is also a lot of construction going on in our area, which makes access more difficult for people.”

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In the meantime, work on the Temporary Overdose Prevention Center (TOPS) at 186 King St.

There have been no deaths at TOPS since it opened in 2018, but Lester says he is still concerned about events outside of the facility.

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Part of what is happening can be found in a provincial report released late last year that stated that “in general, the increased rate of opioid-related deaths during the pandemic has occurred across the province”.

Another follow-up report released by the province in May found that fatal opioid overdoses rose more than 75 percent year over year after the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020. That pandemic surge was also seen locally, with the Middlesex-London Health Unit reporting 80 confirmed or suspected opioid-related deaths between March 16 and December 31, 2020, up from 49 the previous year.

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In 2020, a total of 2,426 people died from confirmed or suspected opioid deaths across Ontario, up 60 percent from the 1,517 people who died in 2019, the report said.

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Lester noted that service providers like RHAC have also faced challenges related to restrictions related to COVID-19 such as physical distancing.

“Sometimes it slowed access just because we can’t have that many places in the program, because there isn’t enough space,” said Lester.

“The room from which we operate has never really been sufficient. We created something as a temporary measure, a temporary site to prevent overdosing, but it is not intended to be a long-term site. “

The upcoming permanent location at 446 York St. has been in the works since 2018 and survived resistance from some neighbors as well as a failed attempt to appeal the rezoning.

Even if everything goes according to plan, there is still more than half a year of work to do before the website can finally open, but Lester says he would rather not rush the process.

“The last thing I want to be is on the other end of the line and there are key pieces that we forgot,” Lester said.

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“That won’t happen between working at RHAC and at the Ministry of Health.”

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Fatal overdoses increased during the pandemic, the report finds

Fatal overdoses increased during the pandemic, report finds May 19, 2021

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