The health unit, along with partners involved in the Windsor-Essex Community Opioid and Substance Strategy, are seeking expressions of interest from building owners and landlords to house a safe drug consumption site.
The Consumption and Treatment Services site would offer "wrap-around" services including counselling, primary care, opioid-dependency treatment and other health services as well as being a safe place for people to consumer their substances.
Finding the right location for the site comes as the culmination of more than a year's work into a city application to Health Canada and Ontario's Ministry of Health, said health unit CEO and chief nursing officer Theresa Marentette.
"We always knew site selection would be a challenging and contentious issue," explained Marentette on Monday.
The site selection is the final piece of the application the health unit needs before approval.
The health unit hoped that application, and site selection process, would be finished by September, but that was before COVID-19.
"During COVID, some of this work was put on hold but we want to move forward with it — we want to try and get this application submitted," said Marentette.
The site-selection process will also include a community consultation process and work with law enforcement "to conduct a community safety assessment on all spaces being considered," according to a press release.
Spike in opioid-related ED visits
The health unit has warned of some of the dangers self-isolating can cause for those dealing with substance abuse.
There have been upticks in emergency-department visits due to opioids — over two days in July there were nine overdose calls, all involving fentanyl.
Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been more emergency department visits in relation to opioids than in years past in the months of January, March, May, and June. Data for July is not yet shown.
The Request for Information and Request for Expression of Interest document is posted publicly on the Merx Canadian Public Tenders website using the health unit's standard procurement process.
Interested property managers, building owners, or realtors are also invited to attend an information session taking place on August 28 via web conference, and are asked to RSVP by August 26.