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Concern over proposed space for people to come down off drugs
LONDON, ONT. -- A city councillor is hoping to allay fears of a proposed 'stabilization space' in his ward, which would provide temporary shelter and support for those who need to come down off a drug-induced high.
The city recently purchased a former youth group home at 345 Sylvan Street in Ward 11, represented by Councillor Stephen Turner.
He’s asking neighbours to have compassion as the city goes through the public consultation process on whether to go ahead with the plan.
He said the city is trying several new approaches to dealing with London’s drugs and homelessness crisis “…in a way that when they need support they don’t necessarily need to go to the hospital or to police cells, but they have a place where they can be supervised and provided with a space that they can stabilize in the short term.”
Under the proposal the space would operate 24/7 and provide stabilization for individuals for up to four days. There would be 10-20 beds in the home.
Neighbour Jane Collins tells CTV News she’s upset she was never consulted about the plan. She said the tiny street already has its share of problems with the girls’ home, and she expects more of the same with a stabilization space.
“We've already had a lot of busyness with the group home, with cops coming in at night. There was a lot of traffic with that and I can see it's going to be the same thing. I can foresee all kinds of break-in problems, and I mean it's making people in the area pretty uncomfortable.”
Neighbour Jerry Mocko, who lives just two doors away, says he’s resigned to the idea that the stabilization centre is coming whether they like it or not, but he added that he thinks it’s better than the alternative – low-income housing.
“If the city needs to put in housing for low-income it will be a problem. It would increase the population. If they use it as an infill and sell the property and it's developed, again, the street is short.”
There are two online petitions circulating; one in support, calling on Old South residents to support the proposal; and one against, saying it’s not an appropriate location for a stabilization space.
Turner says while the home is situated in a residential neighbourhood it is already zoned for the proposed use, and it is close to London Health Sciences Centre.
He’s calling on residents to reserve judgement to be compassionate and reserve judgement.
“Certainly the community recognizes that there's a need to provide supports and stabilizations to those who are very homeless and street involved, and who are challenged with mental health and addictions.
"And I heard concerns from the community about safety and security. And I think what we need to do is to be able to merge both those issues and make sure we have a space that works well for all members of the community.”
Public consultations are expected to take place in the coming weeks.