At this time last year, we were looking back on 2016 and voicing our hopes for a better year to come.
Over the previous 12 months, we had seen the opioid crisis begin in earnest — many of us hearing the words fentanyl or carfentanil for the first time.
Housing costs were climbing while available rental space was becoming scarce.
The New Year could only be better, we told ourselves.
And plenty of good did come out of 2017.
Canada’s biggest parkour park opened in Langley City in the summer, giving Lower Mainland residents of all ages and skill levels a reason to go outside and play. From coast to coast, we celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday and, as part of that, Township residents got a new outdoor amphitheatre where we can enjoy live plays and concerts for years to come.
And a long-overdue $30 million expansion to the LMH emergency room was announced in the lead up to the provincial election.
Still, much of what we’d hoped to leave behind in 2016 followed us into the new year.
The cost of owning a home continued to climb at a staggering rate, with an average detached house in the Township topping the $1 million mark — putting home ownership even further out of reach for many young families. Meanwhile, the number of available rentals dropped even further, leading to plenty of hand wringing over the housing crisis, both locally and across B.C.
The number of overdose deaths in B.C. climbed past 1,200 by the middle of December and the 2017 homeless count revealed that the number of people without a residence in the Langleys has more than doubled since the previous count in 2014.
Moving into 2018, we can look forward to the long-awaited opening of a youth shelter in Langley which, while it won’t solve the local homeless crisis, will at least help a few of our most vulnerable residents sleep comfortably at night.
There are also plans to turn the Quality Inn into low-barrier housing, though many of the building’s neighbours don’t see that as a step in the right direction.
Beyond these, it’s tough, based on what we’ve seen, to hold out much hope that 2018 will be significantly better for those among us who are addicted to drugs or who simply can’t afford a place to live.
These are big problems without easy solutions. But like any crisis, we believe they can be solved if we, as a society, face the problem head on and work together to solve it.
It won’t happen overnight, but eventually, things will begin, bit by bit, to get better instead of worse.
That is our hope for 2018.