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Concern about safe injection site going up next to Langley psychiatric rehabilitation facility

‘I am not opposed to safe drug injection sites, but why this location?’ relative of patient asks
Two tents and a van with a Lookout Housing and Health Society logo were set up in the parking lot of the Memorial Cottage psychiatric rehabilitation facility next to Langley Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, Jan. 17. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

A long-delayed Langley safe injection site has reportedly opened near the Memorial Cottage psychiatric rehabilitation facility next to Langley Memorial Hospital, according to family members of Cottage patients who said it began operating Monday, Jan. 16, in the cottage parking lot, just off Fraser Highway near 221st Street.

On Tuesday, Langley Advance Times determined two tents had been set up, about 20 feet from the Cottage entrance, with a van parked in front bearing the logo of the “Lookout Housing and Health Society ”on the side.

Lookout operates mobile harm reduction teams “consisting of outreach workers who deliver harm reduction supplies to groups, individuals and organizations throughout Langley, Aldergrove, Delta and White Rock,” their website states.

Relatives of Cottage patients who spoke to the Advance Times felt the site was poorly chosen, because many of the patients staying at the facility have substance abuse problems.

“I am not opposed to safe drug injection sites, but why this location?” one asked.

Another, who said their child, a patient at the Cottage, was a recovering addict, “couldn’t believe” the decision to allow addicts to consume drugs nearby.

A Fraser Health web page said the cottage provides “intensive psychosocial rehabilitation to individuals requiring assistance in managing their mental health illness.”

Langley Advance Times has reached out to Fraser Health Authority and Lookout for comment.

READ MORE: Overdose Prevention Site looking for Langley location to reduce deaths

In January of 2021, Langley Township council heard the Fraser Health Authority wanted to create an Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) in Langley to combat an alarming increase in drug-related deaths.

An OPS would allow drug users to have “witnessed consumption,” so they can take their drugs with someone present in case there’s an emergency. It would also distribute Naloxone kits, which can revive people who have suffered opioid overdoses, and offer links and referrals to other health programs, including, for those who want it, addiction counselling and detox.

Dr. Fernando Mejia, a medical health officer with FHA, told Township council that Langley had seen a 75 per cent increase in overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Questions and concerns at Langley City Council over proposed overdose prevention centre

In February of 2021, a Fraser Health Authority delegation appeared before Langley City council regarding the proposed OPS, saying it would serve both the City and Township, offering what was termed “witnessed consumption,” where people take their drugs with someone present who can intervene if there is an overdose.

At the time, Dan Kipper, director of clinical programs for Fraser Health, promised there would be consultation before a location is picked.

“We want to work quite closely with the community,” Kipper said.

Erin Gibson, manager of harm reduction for Fraser Health, said there are many “unwitnessed injection sites” and the OPS offers a safer alternative.

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Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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