01/15/2016 03:50 EST | Updated 01/15/2016 03:59 EST

Vancouver Safe-Injection Site Approved By Feds After 14 Years

VANCOUVER — After years of intense political opposition to safe-injection sites, Health Canada has granted approval for the operation of a second clinic in Vancouver.

The Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation has run a safe-injection site for its clients since 2002, but the approval gives the clinic an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The centre cares for HIV patients who may also have complex health and social issues, including mental illness and addictions.

Health Canada says international and Canadian evidence shows that safe-injection sites have the potential to save lives and improve health without increasing drug use and crime in surrounding areas.

Centre executive director Maxine Davis says the clinic's exemption shows the federal government understands that supervised injection reduces the harms of drug use for injection drug addicts.

The former Conservative government waged a long legal battle against North America's only free-standing safe-injection site — in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside — but the Supreme Court of Canada ruled it could stay open.

Also on HuffPost

10 Important HIV/AIDS Discoveries