London

Naloxone kits will be added to 29 city-owned public buildings

Reversing an earlier decision by the city's community and protective services committee, London city council voted Monday to approve a pilot project that will put naloxone kits in 29 city-owned public buildings, including arenas and community centres.

Council reverses committee decision and opts to move ahead with one-year pilot project

London city council voted Monday to approve a pilot project that will put two naloxone kits in 29 city owned public buildings. (Adapt Pharma Canada)

Reversing an earlier decision by the community and protective services committee, London city council voted Monday to approve a one-year pilot project that will put naloxone kits in 29 city-owned public buildings, including arenas and community centres.

The motion passed 12-3 after a long debate Monday with councillors Shawn Lewis, Paul Van Meerbergen and Elizabeth Peloza opposed. The cost of the one-year pilot project will range from $18,000 to $23,000. 

Those in favour argued that having naloxone — which is effective at reversing potentially fatal overdoses — on hand is worth the cost. The kits cost $160 each.

The city's community and protective services committee had voted last month to receive a staff report outlining the pilot project but to take no action. That decision was reversed Monday as a majority of councillors opted to go ahead with the plan.

Set to start in June, the one-year pilot project will put two nasal spray naloxone kits in all publicly accessible, city-owned buildings that currently have defibrillators, including arenas and community centres.

Coun. Shawn Lewis argued against the pilot project Monday, saying there was little evidence to show that adding the kits would improve public safety.

He pointed out that naloxone kits were never used during a similar pilot project in Kingston. He also said there have been no reports of overdoses in any of the buildings where the kits are slated to be placed. 

"We're trying to solve a problem that we haven't identified we have," he said.

However Coun. Mo Salih argued it's worth having the kits on hand as an emergency option in a community with a significant opioid abuse problem.

"I think it's best to ensure we're doing everything we can to protect those most vulnerable," he said. 

Coun. Steven Turner, a former paramedic, also argued in favour of going ahead with the pilot project. He said low usage numbers in Kingston aren't a reason to turn down something that could save a life. 

"There are many facilities where a fire pull station has never been used, but they're part of the building code, and for good reason," he said. 

After the one-year pilot project wraps up, staff will report back to council. 

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