Province supports supervised consumption sites at 241 Simcoe St. and 446 York St.

The province has thrown its support behind the Middlesex-London Health Unit's plan to establish two permanent supervised consumption facilities at 446 York Street and 241 Simcoe Street.

The provincial support is needed to move forward with Health Canada's application process

So far, Health Canada has approved eight permanent supervised consumption sites in Ontario. Four are in Toronto and four are in Ottawa. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

The province has lent its support to the Middlesex-London Health Unit's proposed supervised consumption facilities at 446 York Street and 241 Simcoe Street, the health unit said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care sent letters to both the health unit and the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC), indicating support for the two sites and committing about $2.5 million in capital and operational funding.

These documents are required to move forward with the Health Canada application process.

The health unit still needs to obtain federal approval and municipal zoning and permits for the sites. That process, plus hiring staff and preparing the spaces, will likely take several months, the health unit said.

Chief medical officer Dr. Chris Mackie said the health unit also plans to give Londoners living near the sites more opportunities for public consultation.

"People who live around the facilities made it really clear they want more discussion and more input, and I think it's absolutely appropriate," said Mackie. "We're committed to doing it."

Possible Market Tower site a 'red herring'

Mackie said the health unit is similarly committed to not putting a supervised consumption facility on Dundas Street. 

Earlier this month, property developer Shmuel Farhi of Farhi Holdings Corporation offered up Market Tower as a combined supervised consumption site and health unit headquarters.

But Mackie said that idea was a 'red herring.'

"The offer was contingent on moving the whole health unit there, so it wasn't really a no-strings-attached offer," said Mackie.

"We'd already committed to not hosting a supervised consumption facility on Dundas Street, that's something we committed to in our public consultations and something we're not going to do."