Safe injection site blamed for loss in customers at downtown car dealer

The owner of a downtown London used car lot says he is losing customers because of the safe injection site next door.

So after 50 years at the same site, Dennis Krogman says his business is up for sale.

“I want to sell. I’m tired, but I’m also tired of fighting the City of London,” said Krogman.

At 78, he told CTV News the decision to list his used car lot is sooner than he and his daughter, Denise had planned.

Starting in 2018, the pair led an effort to stop the movement of the temporary safe drug injection site from King Street to 446 York St. — they ultimately lost the challenge.

In July, a temporary trailer at the new permanent injection site opened.

Dendis Krogman has put his car dealership next to the London safe injection site up for sale. Oct. 13, 2022. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)Once renovations to an existing building are complete, a larger safe injection site is expected to open.

Dean Veilleux, a client of the safe injection site, told CTV News the expanded service is a lifesaver.

“It’s a safe place to do it in case you go down by accidental overdose, as has happened to me more than once,” he said.

The renovated building will offer support services and more space.

“We’ll have six injection booths available. The temporary trailer only has four, so the clinic will be larger,” stated Sonja Burke, the director of harm reduction at Regional HIV/AIDS, which oversees the site.

While compassionate to those battling addictions, Krogman says some used vehicle shoppers are now hesitant to visit his car lot. He doesn’t expect that to change without 24-hour security.

sonja burke oct 2022 1 6107184 1665663483244Sonja Burke, director of harm reduction at Regional HIV/AIDS, which oversees London’s safe-injection site. Oct. 12, 2022. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)“Even though the safe injection site, as they call next door, does have security and it is helping, it is not helping when they are not here.”

Interestingly, Veilleux said he accepts Krogman’s security concerns but questions his decision to sell.

“I understand their point of view, I wouldn’t say they’re wrong, they’re just thinking of it the wrong way,” said Veilleux. “Would you rather people come and do it here, where it is a well-known place, or would rather have people in your backyard or breaking into your house trying to get gear?”

As volunteers and security staff work to pick up discarded needles and other items taken from the site, Burke said her agency is doing all it can to reassure neighbours and to end stigmas.

“I think this community is working really hard to have wraparound support. It is a very complex issue,” she concluded.

Krogman said he will formally list his property within a few weeks.

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