London opened the doors Monday to the province's first officially-sanctioned temporary site for people to use their drugs safely and seek services for recovery.
The Temporary Overdose Prevention Site — or TOPS — is located at 186 King St. in the city's downtown core.
The service has been years in the making, prompted many public conversations and heated debate, and was fast-tracked as fatal overdoses in the city climbed.
Sonja Burke, director of counterpoint harm reduction services at the regional HIV/AIDS connection, gives us a tour of the first temporary overdose prevention site in #ldnont @CBCLondon pic.twitter.com/Ar1y3vhY3O— @LondonMorning
"We don't know how many people will use the site but we do know there are more than 4,000 people registered for London's needle exchange program," said Shaya Dhinsa who took the lead on the Middlesex-London Public Health unit's opioid response team.
Users can bring their drugs to the location and have medical staff supervise the injection.
The Temporary Overdose Prevention Site is in the same location as the needle exchange program where "clients already feel comfortable and know the staff," Dhinsa said.
While preventing deadly overdoses is the primary goal, the team hopes to see an uptick in the number of people accessing medical and mental health services.
"This site allows us to connect people to not only different services that they need but with people that are understanding and caring and can help that person connect and move forward with their life," said outreach worker Blair Henry.
London is still working toward a permanent supervised consumption site, as government approval for this current location was only granted for six months.
The team said there will be lessons to learn from the temporary location that will be put toward the permanent site.
The overdose prevention site will be open 7 days per week starting Tuesday February 20. Until then, it will run Monday to Friday.