North Cowichan, which has its share of problems with issues related to homelessness and addictions, is sending a letter to government ministries asking for assistance. Pictured is RCMP and North Cowichan bylaw officers clearing out a homeless camp on Lewis Street last year. (File photo)

North Cowichan, which has its share of problems with issues related to homelessness and addictions, is sending a letter to government ministries asking for assistance. Pictured is RCMP and North Cowichan bylaw officers clearing out a homeless camp on Lewis Street last year. (File photo)

North Cowichan to outline community crisis to provincial ministries

Initiative is part of campaign by local leadership to highlight regional concerns

North Cowichan wants to provide as comprehensive a picture as possible to the province of the needs in the municipality regarding homelessness and addictions.

At the council meeting on March 4, council members discussed the essence of the letter that Mayor Al Siebring will send to 10 provincial ministries outlining the many challenges the municipality is facing with homeless and addiction issues, what it is doing in its efforts to deal with them, and what North Cowichan believes the government should be doing to assist.

RELATED STORY: NEIGHBOURS INCREASINGLY FRUSTRATED WITH ABANDONED CAMPS ALONG COWICHAN TRAILS

Siebring pointed out that, unlike many other communities in B.C. that are facing similar issues, North Cowichan and other local governments in the Cowichan Valley operate under a different model.

“Others just want them moved away somewhere else, but we’re saying ‘no’ to that and we’re trying to deal with the issues here, and with more than just band-aids,” he said.

“I don’t buy into harm reduction for its own sake. Harm reduction focuses on just saving lives, but for what? Are we saving them just to overdose again? Let’s help move them into something better.”

The Cowichan Leadership Group, which includes the heads of local governments, school board, MLA Sonia Furstenau, MP Alistair MacGregor, and RCMP and health authorities, has already written to 10 separate provincial ministries seeking urgent funding and support for escalating addictions and housing challenges in the Valley.

RELATED STORY: COWICHAN LEADERS CALL ON PROVINCE TO HELP WITH HOMELESSNESS, ADDICTION

Each of the members of the CLG intend to send follow-up letters to each of the ministries — which include the Ministry Health, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions — outlining the specific areas in which they are being impacted by homelessness and addictions.

Coun. Rob Douglas suggested that one issue that should be highlighted in North Cowichan’s letter to the ministries is the fact that some of the recent tax increases in the municipality are related to initiatives that deal with homelessness and addictions.

Social housing and addictions are traditionally the jurisdiction of senior levels of government, and local governments have been complaining about senior governments downloading these responsibilities to the local level for some time.

Coun. Tek Manhas said he would like to see quotes from business people in North Cowichan in the letter stating how they are impacted.

“I think it would be a powerful addition to the letter for the business people to talk about the ongoing thefts, and the fact that many of their workers are often afraid to leave work at the end of their shifts and need to be escorted to their cars,” he said.

RELATED STORY: CITY OF DUNCAN HOSTS MAYOR’S CAFE IN CAIRNSMORE NEIGHBOURHOOD

Coun. Rosalie Sawrie suggested that adding quotes from some of the people on the streets in the letter regarding how much trouble it is to find decent housing and drug treatment programs might be helpful.

Coun. Kate Marsh added that information from the medical community on the costs of treating people with addictions should also be in the letter.

The CLG invited Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy to visit the Cowichan Valley in October to see first-hand the problems the Valley is facing.

Following that meeting, a request was presented for provincial funding for temporary treatment facilities and a safe drug supply pilot in Cowichan.

That request was denied in December.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

municipal politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Cowichan considers extending tax payment deadline by two months. (File photo)
North Cowichan considers extending deadline for property tax payments

A two-month deadline extension to Sept. 1 gets three readings

John Horn is leaving his position as executive director of the Cowichan Housing Association. (File photo)
John Horn leaving Cowichan Housing Association

Will take on role as executive director of John Howard Society in Nanaimo

Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour has taken a medical leave of absence but expects to return soon. (Citizen file)
Chief William Seymour takes leave from office

Seymour will return once fully recovered

A cougar was sighted in the 500 block of Cedar Avenue in Duncan on May 6 at about 9:30 p.m. (Facebook)
Cougar sighted in residential Duncan

Spotted in the Cairnsmore neighbourhood

The Lake Cowichan branch of the Royal Bank of Canada is closing. (Google)
Lake Cowichan’s RBC branch will close in November

RBC says banking needs will still be met

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read