Calls for an overdose prevention hub in Langley
The Lookout Society is advocating the Township of Langley for a fixed brick and mortar health centre to address the overdose crisis; where staff can supervise consumption, offer counselling, addiction treatment, as well as housing and outreach services.
Fraser Health and the Lookout Society want the Township of Langley council’s support to help address the overdose crisis in the community.
During a recent council meeting the two organizations made a presentation to highlight the need for a permanent health contact centre in Langley where staff can supervise consumption, provide harm reduction supplies, as well as education. Lookout has considered 26 potential sites but has found there are few suitable locations and encountered reservation from property owners willing to lease to the organization for its purposes, said Terry Brock, director of health services. An added hurdle is that the Township’s zoning bylaws don’t support the Lookout’s intended use for a space.
Overdose deaths in Langley more than doubled from 23 in 2019 to 56 in 2021. (The Current reported on the overdose crisis in December.) Since a provincial health emergency was called in 2016, Langley has lost 218 people to illicit drugs. The crisis has also had a trickle down effect and increased pressure on first responders and other social services.
Paramedic-attended overdose events increased by 91% in the City of Langley and 64% in the Township from 2019, according to Dr. Maulik Baxi. “When we see one death, or one overdose, that’s a medical problem. When we see hundreds of them, that’s a social problem,” he told council. Township mayor Jack Froese asked how likely those who use at home will access the centre considering the majority of reported overdoses occur in private residences. Brock emphasized the need for a fixed brick and mortar site blended within the community that can offer other services like counselling, psychiatric services, housing and outreach services and addiction treatment services—giving people more reason to come.
Although Fraser Health can create mobile units, Brock said a permanent site is required to offer all the services needed to address the overdose crisis. Council didn’t take immediate action following the presentation, but Froese said the Township would work with Lookout on special zoning.