Overdose prevention site blamed for homeless encampment, but health officials disagree
Published Friday, July 12, 2019 6:39PM EDT
A homeless encampment in the heart of downtown London is drawing negative attention to London's overdose prevention site.
On Friday CTV News found more than a dozen people lingering outside the recently renamed Carepoint Overdose Prevention Facility at 186 King Street.
One of them, 'Aubrey,' explains why people have been lingering in larger numbers near Carepoint this summer.
"It’s almost like a community gathering. Like, a lot of people will come here if they need help with something.”
Dennis Krogman Auto Sales is next door to the proposed site for a permanent supervised drug consumption facility at 446 York Street.
Denise Krogman has seen the situation behind Carepoint, and says it lends credibility to concerns they've raised to the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
“Since we have an outdoor business, this was always a major concern. They have no back exit, it was a concern about where they would go after using the facility.”
But MLHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie says this is symptomatic of the housing crisis, not Carepoint.
“We knew that when we set this service up that they would blame every urban problem that they saw on this service. The reality is that these problems are longstanding.”
Mackie adds that the code of conduct for Carepoint clients forbids lingering around the facility, “The security at the Carepoint Overdose Prevention Facility does ensure clients are moving along. None of the people who are urban camping there are our clients.”
But 'Aubrey' says she is a client, “ I think convenience for the site, I think when the site is open it’s a place to find whatever dope it is you are looking for, there is always someone around who can help you out.”
CTV News also spoke to several people who asked not to be on camera, who said they are not clients of Carepoint, but the alley is simply a safer place to hang out given they have nowhere else to go.
Mackie says businesses that back onto the alley face the same concerns as downtown merchants across the country.
"[I have] huge empathy for the businesses trying to work in that environment. This is something that is a symptom of the housing crisis that is affecting all of Canada.”