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New partnership will see sharps pick-up program continue

Lookout Housing and Health Society will run program
The Municipality of North Cowichan and the City of Duncan have partnered with Lookout Housing and Health Society to continue the enhanced Mobile Peer Clean-up Crew program. (Citizen file photo)

The City of Duncan and the Municipality of North Cowichan have announced a new partnership with Lookout Housing and Health Society for an enhanced Mobile Peer Clean-up Crew program, which sees sharps and other debris collected in the region.

Following a successful year-and-a-half operation funded by a provincial grant from 2020 to 2022, the program is now sustained through a municipal funding arrangement.

The base funding for the program, covering a total of 18 hours a week, continues to be provided by Island Health.

The City of Duncan and the Municipality of North Cowichan have allocated municipal funding to sustain the enhanced program, recognizing its significance in addressing the challenges associated with the opioid overdose crisis.

Island Health contributes $23,000 annually towards the program, while Duncan and North Cowichan have agreed to each contribute $15,000 a year.

The Mobile Peer Clean-up Crew operates seven days a week, covering Beverly Street to Boys Road and Government Street to Lakes Road, including municipal parks.

In addition to the increased service hours and collection routes for sharps, the crew also collects garbage and debris, facilitated by the availability of a dedicated vehicle.

The program employs people who are overcoming homelessness or addiction.

“There is a dedicated phone number, 250-883-3592, for businesses and residents along the Trans-Canada Highway Corridor to report sharps,” said Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples.

“It adds another piece of support as we all work to address the challenges posed by the opioid overdose crisis.”

North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas also emphasized the value of the program.

“This is an important service for area businesses and residents, and I’m pleased to see it continue with Lookout Housing and Health Society,” he said.

Lee King, Lookout’s operations director for Vancouver Island, said the society is proud to work with Duncan and North Cowichan on this initiative.

“This reinforces Lookout’s long-term community commitment to work with local government on housing and healthcare solutions in the Cowichan Valley.”

In 2020, the City of Duncan received a $49,000 grant from the Ministry of Health’s Community Action Initiative, with support from North Cowichan, the Community Action Team, Island Health, Canadian Mental Health Association - Cowichan Valley branch, and the House of Friendship.

This funding allowed for the enhancement of the Mobile Peer Clean-up Crew program to provide seven-day-a-week coverage and increase service levels.