Island Health has selected Lookout Housing and Health Society to provide harm reduction services in the Cowichan Valley, including running the controversial Wellness and Recovery Centre at 5878 York Rd. when it opens.
Lookout Housing and Health Society is a non-profit organization with almost 50 years of experience offering a range of housing, health and support programs to vulnerable adults living with multiple challenges.
Lookout currently provides harm reduction support at The Harbour in Victoria and in communities across the Lower Mainland.
The contract has been awarded to the society following a Request for Proposal issued by Island Health last April.
In a press release, Island Health said it recognizes the commitment and dedication of the Canadian Mental Health Association – Cowichan Branch which has operated the overdose prevention site in the Cowichan Valley since 2017.
The OPS is currently in operation on Trunk Road but will move to new Wellness and Recovery Centre when it opens, which is now scheduled for June.
Island Health’s press release said that in the time that the Canadian Mental Health Association ran the OPS, countless lives have been saved through education and awareness, interventions in overdoses and linkages with other health care services and supports, including treatment.
It said Lookout will assume operation of Trunk Road’s OPS on Jan. 1, 2021.
“Lookout and Island Health are committed to a safe and inclusive community, and will engage the community to examine service delivery in order to discuss service delivery protocols,” the release said.
“This will include engaging with a range of community stakeholders through online consultations, meetings, and responses to concerns and questions.”
Island Health announced last April that the new Wellness and Recovery Centre will provide a range of services to support people living with addiction and mental health concerns.
It will bring together primary care, harm reduction, case management, the overdose prevention site, and on-site treatment in one location.
Island Health doesn’t require permission from local governments or residents to open such sites, and many in the community are taking exception to the centre being placed in an already troubled part of the Valley.
Both the Municipality of North Cowichan and the Cowichan Valley school district have recently sent letters to Island Health raising concerns about the location of the site on York Road, and the lack of public consultations before the site was chosen.